Advanced Reproductive Technology

Advanced reproductive Technology (ART) is defined on any medical treatment that helps overcome infertility. For the purposes here I am using it to describe some of the more techniquely advanced form of infertility treatments that I have not covered elsewhere. In particular I will address surrogacy, ICSI, and embrionic biopsy in conjunction with IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Surrogacy is when an embryo is placed into another woman and that woman carries the pregnancy for someone else. An example of when this can be useful is in a woman that has had a hysterectomy but wants to have children. In this case eggs can be harvested from the ovaries of the woman that does not have a uterus. IVF can then be performed using her partner’s sperm or donor sperm. The fertilized embryo can then be placed into another women”s uterus (the surrogate). The surrogate carries the pregnancy and delivers the baby and the baby is taken home and raised by the women without a uterus. The baby will be genetically the child of the original woman. Surrogacy can be done in other situations as well. Donor egg or donor sperm or any combination can be used. It is also possible to implant embryos that have been frozen from previous rounds of IVF.

ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This procedure is done as a part of IVF. With ICSI, eggs are harvested from the women and then individual sperm are injected into the egg to allow for fertilization. The fertilized embryo is then placed into the woman’s uterus and pregnancy is achieved. This is very useful in situations where the male has a very low sperm count. Pregnancy rates can be very good even with very few sperm.

Embryonic biopsy in conjunction with IVF is a very exiting development. In this procedure, IVF is done in the usual way. The embryos are biopsied and genetic testing is done. The embryos that do not have the genetic disease that is tested for are then placed into the woman. One example of this is with muscular dystrophy. There are certain types of muscular dystrophy that can be tested for. If there is a strong family history of muscular dystrophy this is a technique that can be used to assure the baby is not effected with the genetic disease.