Techniques of Assisted Reproduction

Assisted reproduction is a way for couples with fertility problems to have children. Continue reading to find out what it's all about.
Techniques of Assisted Reproduction

Last update: 21 July, 2021

Assisted reproduction encompasses a series of techniques and medical treatments to facilitate pregnancy. Essentially, it’s a method to fertilize couples who want children but are infertile.

There are several ways of doing this. However, all of them require sperm and an egg to produce an embryo to inseminate in a woman’s body.

Continue reading for a detailed explanation of assisted reproduction techniques. 

Types of techniques of assisted reproduction

A test tube baby.
Couples who have difficulty conceiving can opt for one of the assisted fertilization techniques.

Overall, there are three techniques to attain fertilization in a lab. All of them lead to different results, advantages, and disadvantages.

Artificial insemination

First, this technique consists of depositing a semen sample in the female reproductive system. Its objective is to enhance the fertilization capacity of the sperm with improvements made in a lab.

The woman must have at least one fallopian tube that produces eggs. There are two types of procedures to use this technique: spousal and donor insemination.

To do this, the number of eggs must be increased by stimulating the ovaries with medication. The semen sample obtained must have a large amount of good-quality sperm. Thus, sexual abstinence is recommended for at least three days.

Likewise, they do a sperm capacitation treatment on the sample to guarantee maximum quality. Then, when the sample is ready, the technician inseminates it in the cervix with a special catheter that goes into the uterus to deposit the sperm. They then remove the catheter.

The procedure works if there’s a decrease in the number of spermatozoa or alterations in their mobility or morphology. Also, if there are malformations in the male reproductive system due to trauma. Its uses go as far as ejaculatory disorders and semen alterations.

One can also use it for female problems such as an alteration of the cervical mucus, the presence of anti-sperm antibodies, narrowing of the cervix, or vaginal dysfunctions.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF)

This method consists of reproducing the fertilization process in a specialized lab. For this, the technicians extract the eggs and sperm and keep them in an environment conducive to fertilization.

This technique is usually for cases with poor semen quality, blocked tubes, severe endometriosis, and sterility of unknown cause.

Physicians do studies of a couple beforehand. Then, they stimulate the ovaries with hormones, extract the oocytes, inseminate them with the sperm and do a culture to evaluate if fertilization was successful. Two to six days later, they transfer the embryos to the woman’s uterus.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Injection)

With the help of microinjection, technicians introduce sperm into the egg to facilitate fertilization. It’s an auxiliary method for in-vitro fertilization and is mainly used when the semen is of poor quality.

Mature oocytes are suitable for microinjection. It consists of taking a single sperm with a microinjection pipette and introducing it into the egg — all while looking through a special microscope.

The advantages of assisted reproduction

A person wiping a baby.
Assisted reproduction offers the possibility of parenthood to single people, same-gender couples, or those with fertility problems.

There are numerous advantages of assisted reproduction according to the circumstance. The main one is the possibility for single people and same-gender couples to have children.

Another advantage is the possible planning to avoid hereditary diseases through preimplantation genetic diagnosis. This is a set of procedures designed to determine the genetic characteristics of the embryos obtained through in-vitro fertilization. All to transfer the best ones to the uterus.

The disadvantages of assisted reproduction

Assisted reproduction is usually expensive. Furthermore, complications may arise depending on the methods used.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is among the main complications. It occurs when the abdomen distends and the ovaries expand. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Also, painless vaginal bleeding may occur after follicular aspiration or embryo transfer.

There is the possibility of multiple pregnancies as well as lesions in the organs close to the ovaries, such as the bladder, intestine, or blood vessels when obtaining and transferring more than one embryo. Regarding the risk of miscarriage, there’s a 12 to 17% chance of miscarriage with IVF.

In the case of complications due to artificial insemination, cramping pain, light bleeding, nausea, and vomiting or pelvic infection may appear when there’s a history of blockage in the fallopian tubes. Also if there’s an active cervicovaginal infection.

In addition, there are bioethical debates regarding the issue of the selection of “suitable” and “unsuitable” embryos as well as sperm donations that may come from a deceased person.

In any case, assisted reproduction helps individuals and couples with problems to conceive. It’s quite the scientific advance!

It might interest you...
How Long does It Take to Get Pregnant After Sex?
Step To HealthRead it in Step To Health
How Long does It Take to Get Pregnant After Sex?

Fertilization is the beginning of being pregnant, this complex process takes place after sex but doesn't occur immediately after it.