Assisted Reproductive Technologies

What are Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)?

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) encompass a wide range of techniques designed primarily to aid couples unable to conceive without medical intervention. Since the birth of Louise Brown, the first 'test-tube baby' in 1978 with the assistance of Professor Robert Edwards, more than 1.5 million children worldwide have been born following IVF treatment and other Assisted reproductive technologies. The term 'assisted reproductive technologies' include techniques such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). However, it can be defined as including all treatments that include medical and scientific manipulation of human gametes and embryos in order to produce a term pregnancy.

By definition it can include procedures in which only sperm are manipulated (i.e., intra-uterine insemination or artificial insemination) but it does not include procedures in which a woman takes drugs only to stimulate egg production, without the intention of having eggs retrieved. In general, ART involves surgically removing eggs from a woman's ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the woman's body or donating them to another woman.

The types of ARTs include:

ARTs consist of a group of procedures and include procedures aiming to treat the male factor, female factor or both. In the case of treatment of the male factor it is often overcome through the use of advanced techniques including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching, egg donation and other similar techniques. Recent advances such as blastocyst culture and transfer and micro-surgical sperm aspiration, among others, are enabling clinicians and scientists to achieve higher pregnancy success rates, lower multiple pregnancy rates and even enable men with no sperm in their ejaculate to father children. As advanced fertility treatment technologies continue to develop, possibilities become realities, allowing more couples to build the family of their dreams.

 

Bob Edwards Zavos with Louis Brown
Professor Zavos with Professor Robert Edwards, who performed the first human IVF procedure. Dr. Zavos with Louise Brown, the very first IVF "test tube baby".

 

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