To understand whether assisted reproductive technology is right for you, you might want to examine your own fertility, general health, financial situation, and the risks of each procedure.
How’s your fertility?
If you’re not sure about assisted reproductive technology or which type is right for you, it could help to break down what your fertility issues are.
- No documented fertility issues: For someone who’s simply looking for a way to use donor sperm, but has no documented fertility issues, IVI (intravaginal insemination) is a cheap option with the same results as traditional intercourse. ICI and IUI could also be good options, as they’re insemination methods that inject sperm into the cervix or uterus, which tend to be more effective than IVI.
- Infertility: For someone who is struggling with infertility and looking for a way to increase the chances of getting pregnant, IVF, GIFT, or ZIFT are the most effective forms of ART. IVF goes through the vagina to the uterus, and both GIFT and ZIFT go into the fallopian tubes through an incision in the abdomen. If you prefer one of those methods to the other, that would also be something to consider as you’re weighing your options.
It’s recommended that women under 35 try to get pregnant for one year before consulting a healthcare provider, and women over 35 should try for six months. If you haven’t quite reached that benchmark, you might want to give it a little more time before pursuing ART.
Do you have health problems?
Not every ART method is effective for every woman. If you don’t have at least one healthy fallopian tube, GIFT and ZIFT won’t be effective. IVF isn’t as successful for women over 40, but it’s still likely to be more successful than IVI, ICI, or IUI, so it might be the best option for many trying to conceive.
With endometriosis or cervical-related infertility, IUI, IVF, GIFT, or ZIFT could be a good fit because they all bypass the vagina and cervix and go straight to the uterus or fallopian tubes. If you’re pursuing ART because you’re at risk of passing down a genetic disorder, IVF would probably be best for you because of the capability to perform genetic testing.
Are you aware of the risks?
With IVI, the only risk is that it might not result in a pregnancy, but each of the other types of ART come with risks.
- ICI and IUI: Both could result in an infection or spotting. If used with additional fertility treatments, IUI could result in multiples. Because of the risks of the other types of insemination, IVI is the only form of insemination that may be attempted at home.
- GIFT and ZIFT: Both are invasive procedures that could result in multiples or ectopic pregnancy, though this is less likely with GIFT.
- IVF: This is the most well-known form of ART, but it also comes with risks. There is a higher chance of multiples, which could then lead to premature delivery or low birth weight. There is also a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy.
GIFT, ZIFT, and IVF are the most expensive types of ART, but they’re also the most effective. These procedures can range from $10,000-$20,000 for one cycle. IUI and ICI are less expensive at around $500, and IVI is the cheapest because it can be performed at home. If you can’t afford an expensive procedure, you might want to try one of those three insemination methods.
If you have fertility issues that would make those methods ineffective, check to see if you would be able to afford GIFT, ZIFT, or IVF. And if you can afford it, would that make a big dent in your savings for a future child? Having a discussion about your finances is an important step when considering ART. You should also look up what is covered by your insurer, as laws in some states require insurers to cover fertility treatments, while other private employers might cover some as part of a benefits package.
Your personal lifestyle and beliefs
Different cultures and religious organizations may have specific guideline or teachings on ART. If you have specific concerns about ART based on your religious beliefs, it might be best if you seek the counsel of a trusted leader in your specific community before making a decision.
Is your head swimming yet? There’s a lot of information surrounding ART, and some of it can be confusing. Your healthcare provider should be able to refer you to a fertility specialist who can work with you to figure out if ART is right for you.
“Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).” National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. National Institute of Health. July 2, 2013. Web.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “In vitro fertilization (IVF).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. June 16, 2016. Web.
“IUI Success Rates – Success with Intrauterine Insemination.” Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. 2016. Web.
Gilson, Hilary. “Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT).” The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Arizona State University. September 26, 2016.
USC Fertility. “Why ZIFT may work when standard IVF fails.” USC Fertility. Keck School of Medicine of USC. March 23, 2009. Web.
Sherbahn, Richard. “Frozen embryo transfer, FET cycles after IVF.” Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. 2016. Web.
- “The Costs of Infertility Treatment.” Resolve. Resolve: The National Infertility Association. 2006. Web.