Infertility Q&A (cont.)

In this Article

Q. What other types of ART are being used?

A. IVF is the most common type of ART and there are other variations on the basic procedure, some of which remain controversial. People should learn about both the benefits and risks of any medical procedure.

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): A single sperm is injected into an egg. If the egg is fertilized and develops normally, it is then transferred to the uterus. This has been a significant advance in treating men with low sperm count or disorders related to sperm movement. Couples who undergo the procedure should be aware that if their infertility is caused by a genetic defect, that defect could be passed to the child.
  • Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: An individual cell from a growing embryo is removed and used for genetic screening during IVF.
  • Blastocyst culture: A blastocyst, a developed embryo, is cultured and transferred to the uterus after five or six days, compared with the three days for typical in vitro fertilization.
  • Cryopreservation: Human eggs and embryos are frozen so that they can be kept viable. They are stored in liquid nitrogen at 320 degrees below zero.
  • Assisted hatching: An opening is created in the egg shell surrounding the embryo to help it implant in the uterus. This procedure has not been shown to be beneficial for everyone undergoing ART. Those who may benefit from assisted hatching include couples who have preserved embryos, their own or donated, by cryopreservation, couples in which the mother is of an advanced age, or couples with a history of multiple failed IVF attempts.

The FDA does not regulate individual ART procedures, but the agency has cleared devices for use in ART procedures. Examples are biopsy devices, dissection needles, sperm and embryo delivery catheters, and solutions used to process and maintain sperm, eggs, and embryos.

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