Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) won't solve every fertility issue. But for about two percent of those trying to conceive it may be the best method of assisted reproductive technology (ART).
In human beings, a gamete is either an ovum (egg) produced by the female of the species, or a sperm, from the male. Every gamete wants to fuse with another of the opposite gender so conception can take place.
"Intrafallopian" means "within the fallopian tube". This method of ART is used when eggs just can't make it from ovary to fallopian tube. The egg and sperm are injected into the fallopian tube -- this is the "transfer" bit -- where nature can (hopefully) take its course.
GIFT differs from other ART in that it's done inside your body. In all other procedures, fertilization occurs on the outside.
After medication stimulates egg follicles, your doctor will put about four of the resulting eggs in a tube with your partner's semen. They are then transferred surgically into your fallopian tube.
If fertilization occurs, the egg journeys from your fallopian tube to your uterus, implanting itself. The GIFT process takes from four to six weeks.
If your beliefs are at odds with the idea of fertilization happening externally, you may choose GIFT. If you have problems with your cervix or with ovulation, GIFT may be your treatment of choice.
If you have at least one healthy and unblocked fallopian tube, and your partner can provide sufficient semen, you may be a good candidate for GIFT.
Keep in mind though, fertilization isn't guaranteed. Once the sperm and egg are injected into your fallopian tube, you won't know what's going on until your pregnancy test, about two weeks after treatment.
GIFT involves laparoscopic surgery, and while it's a small incision with minimal scarring, it's still surgery. You also have greater risk of ectopic pregnancy (a nasty business where the egg implants outside the uterus).
On top of this, GIFT carries a hefty price tag.
Still, if you proceed, you could be one of the 35 percent of GIFT participants who conceive, and one of the 27 percent whose pregnancy produces a healthy baby.