Infertility can be caused by many factors including physical and congenital reasons, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, immunological or even psychological and lifestyle factors.
To treat infertility, couples are often advised to visit infertility clinics, where the doctors evaluate both partners to pinpoint the causes of infertility. Based on the results, the doctors may then suggest medication or surgery. When surgeries or medications fail, doctors may suggest assisted reproductive technologies or ART. Today, there are several types of ART available they are in vitro fertilisation, intra uterine transfer, zygote intra fallopian transfer, gamete intra fallopian transfer, intra cytoplasmic sperm injection and artificial insemination. IVF is also called a test tube baby programme, the gametes can be collected from the partner or a donor. Once the egg and sperm are collected, they are placed in a dish for fertilisation and incubated together to form an embryo. . IVF is followed by embryo transfer, where the embryo is transferred to the uterus using a tube called a catheter. Apart from IVF, couples can also opt for intra-uterine transfer. In this method, embryos formed by fusion of gametes inside a healthy woman’s body are removed through surgery and transferred into the uterus of the woman who wishes to conceive. Another option available for infertile couples is zygote intra fallopian transfer. This process is similar to IVF where the gametes are collected and the egg is fertilised in the lab. Post-fertilisation, when the zygote contains more than 8 blastomeres, the zygotes are then transferred to the fallopian tube through the laparoscope. Interestingly, a laparoscope is also used in another ART called gamete intra fallopian transfer, in which a healthy egg from a donor is placed inside the fallopian tube of the woman who wishes to conceive.
At times, a woman may not be able to conceive because of male infertility resulting from low sperm count, low sperm motility. In such cases, the couple can opt for intra cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, in which the doctor injects a single sperm into each ovum, which leads to fertilisation. Post-fertilisation, the fertilised egg divides to form an embryo… ...which is planted inside the uterus using a catheter. Apart from ICSI, artificial insemination is another option in which semen, collected from either the male partner or a donor, is introduced into the vagina or uterus by inserting a catheter. Artificial insemination as well as other ARTs are helping infertile couples realise their dream of becoming parents.