Around 7.3 million Americans are infertile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers may seem daunting, but there is help for the infertile. Thanks to advances in science and technology, the options to treat infertility are showing more success.
Most people are aware of fertility drugs and surgery, but when these options do not work, they often move on to in vitro fertilization using various methods. IVF is just one type of assisted reproductive technology.
ART involves stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs. Those eggs are removed from the body and mixing with sperm in a laboratory. After that, these new embryos are put inside a woman's body.
In vitro fertilization is considered to be the most effective type of ART. In the first step, a woman is prescribed drugs that force her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Next the eggs are allowed to mature. Once that happens, they are removed from the woman’s body.
In a laboratory, these mature eggs are mixed with sperm in a dish to be fertilized. It can take three to five days for healthy embryos to emerge. The healthy embryos are implanted into the woman's uterus.
IVF treatments can be pricey. Expect to pay between $8,000 and $15,000 per procedure.
The artificial insemination method uses specially prepared sperm that comes from the woman's partner or a donor. This sperm is inserted directly into the uterus via a thin, flexible catheter. Each procedure is typically priced under $1,000.
The gamete intrafallopian transfer method mixes eggs with sperm in a laboratory. The mixture is then surgically injected into the fallopian tubes. This allows fertilization to naturally occur inside the woman’s body.
With zygote intrafallopian transfer, fertilization of eggs and sperm occurs in the laboratory. Once that happens, the very young embryo is transferred to the fallopian tubes.
Both the GIFT and ZIFT options can be expensive. Expect to spend between $8,000 and $15,000 per procedure.
When there is a severe problem with sperm, one option is intracytoplasmic sperm injection. With ICSI, a single sperm is injected into a mature egg.