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What is Assisted Reproductive Technology? Definitions of 8 Infertility Treatments

I learned how to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) before I realized it was a type of “assisted reproductive technology” (ART)! If you can’t get pregnant, these definitions of eight different types of infertility treatments: ZIFT, ICSI, SUZI, MESA, TESE, MIST, GIFT, and IVF will give you something new to think about…

“Assisted reproductive technology has helped many childless couples to become parents,” writes Dr Miriam Stoppard in Conception, Pregnancy & Birth. “Originally in vitro fertilization (IVF) was the only form, but now there are a number of techniques aimed at helping a couple conceive and give birth to a healthy child. The rewards are wonderful, but the emotional costs can be high. Any couple considering assisted reproductive technology needs expert support.”

Many fertility clinics won’t provide treatments or assisted reproductive technology unless the couple has talked to a counselor or psychologist (and that can cost extra, depending on the type of infertility treatment). For more information on getting pregnant and healthy pregnancies, click Conception, Pregnancy & Birth: The Childbirth Bible for Today’s Parents. And, read on for the definitions of eight different types of fertility treatments or assisted reproductive technologies…


What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

“Assisted reproductive technology” or ART describes a range of infertility treatments – all involving laboratory treatments and medical drugs. Some treatments for infertility also involve egg donors or sperm donors…and they all focus on fertilization, implantation, conception, and (hopefully) birth!

8 Different Ways to Help Infertile Couples Get Pregnant

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an infertility treatment that involves fertilization outside the body, in a glass dish (“in vitro” means “in glass”). The fertilized embryo(s) are then placed in the uterus. In vitro fertilization is especially helpful for women with damaged fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, immune problems, unexplained infertility, and older women who have deteriorating egg production.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) improves the chances of pregnancy because it involves selecting a single sperm, treating it, and injecting it directly into the egg. This is different from IVF, which fertilizes the eggs the usual way.

Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) is a type of assisted reproductive technology that involves mixing sperm and ovum (eggs) outside the body and then immediately put into the fallopian tube. With GIFT, pregnancy happens as “naturally” as possible when it comes to infertility treatments! Gamete intra-fallopian transfer is less expensive than in vitro fertilization, but can only be used for women with healthy fallopian tubes.

Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT) is an infertility treatment similar to GIFT, but it’s a zygote that’s transferred to the fallopian tube (not the sperm-and-egg mixture).

Sub-zonal insemination (SUZI) is a type of in vitro fertilization that involves carefully selecting sperm and injecting them underneath the outer layer of the egg. This infertility treatment helps men who have low sperm counts to conceive a baby.

Micro-insemination sperm transfer (MIST) is similar to sub-zonal insemination (SUZI), and involves depositing sperm directly into the egg cell.

Micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) is a type of assisted reproductive technology that requires sperm to be surgically extracted from the epididymis. MESA can help men who have no sperm in their ejaculate (azoospermia) to get his woman pregnant. After MESA is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) is similar to micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), but the sperm are collected from the testes (not the epididymis). After TESE is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).


Phew! There you have eight types of assisted reproductive technologies for you! If you need more information on any of them – or have questions or thoughts – please comment below. 


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If you’re an infertile couple, you might want to learn how much infertility treatments cost.

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