Alternatives to In vitro Fertilizatio
Depending on the cause of infertility, alternatives to in vitro fertilization may be available. In vitro fertilization is often used to help patients with blocked or missing fallopian tubes, get pregnant. Fallopian tubes are the site of fertilization in the body. If fallopian tubes are blocked or missing, conception through sexual intercourse or insemination is impossible.
The process of in vitro fertilization involves bringing egg(s) and sperm together in a culture dish, then transferring the embryos to the mother's uterus. If successful, the embryos will develop in the mother's uterus.
Some common alternatives to in vitro fertilization are listed below.
Intrauterine insemination can serve as an alternative to in vitro fertilization if the fallopian tubes are open and at least 20 million motile sperm can be used for insemination. In intrauterine insemination, sperm are injected directly into the uterus during the time of ovulation. This can occur during either a natural cycle or an ovarian stimulation cycle. In an intrauterine insemination, sperm swim from the uterus to the fallopian tube to meet and fertilize the egg.
In some cases, the ovaries are stimulated to produce more than one egg. Stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs increases the chances for successful fertilization.
Intrauterine insemination is also called IUI.
Egg Donor or Gestational Surrogate
If a woman is medically unable to participate in in vitro fertilization, an egg donor or a gestational surrogate is an option. Women who are medically unable to do an in vitro fertilization could be a woman who has had ovaries removed, uterus removed, or reproductive organs damaged by cancer treatments.
An egg donor can be a family member or anyone who is willing to donate eggs anonymously. Gestational surrogates are women who are willing to carry another person's embryos to term. The egg donor and gestational surrogate undergo the IVF procedures for the patient.
Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer
Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer is an alternative to in vitro fertilization for patients who require that conception occur within the woman. Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer is often done for women who need in vitro fertilization but won't do it because of religious regions.
In Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer, ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval are performed just as for the in vitro fertilization procedure. The major difference is that egg and sperm are not combined in a dish. In Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer, the semen sample and eggs are injected separately into the woman's fallopian tubes so that fertilization occurs inside the woman. This process is done under general anesthesia.
Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer is also called GIFT.
Tubal Reversal Surgery
Tubal ligation is a method of sterilization in which a woman's fallopian tubes are blocked, cut or burned to remove the natural site of fertilization. Sometimes the fallopian tubes can be re-connected in a procedure called tubal reversal surgery. After the fallopian tubes are 'reversed' a baby can be conceived through sexual intercourse or artificial insemination.
Embryo or Child Adoption
Adoption is an option for patients who want to have a family but are not able to conceive naturally and do not want to try in vitro fertilization. Women who have had their eggs frozen and have decided not to use them can donate their embryos to other infertile women who are willing to "adopt" the embryo and nourish it in their own uterus.
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