ART - Talking to Children About Assisted Reproductive Technology

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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Terms

Artificial insemination: A concentrated dose of sperm from a woman’s partner or a donor is injected into the woman’s reproductive tract during ovulation.

Donor insemination (or “sperm donation”): Artificial insemination (see above) is performed using a donor’s sperm. This procedure is used when the intended father is infertile.

In vitro fertilization (IVF): Eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries and then, in a lab, are fertilized with sperm from her partner or a donor. The resulting embryos are placed in her uterus.

Gamete intrafallopian transfter (GIFT): An egg is surgically removed from a woman's ovary and combined with sperm. The and egg and sperm mixture is placed immediately into the fallopian tube, where fertilization takes place.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): Similarly to GIFT (see above), egg and sperm are mixed in the lab and then placed in the woman’s fallopian tubes. But in ZIFT, a physician makes sure the egg is fertilized before placing it in the fallopian tubes.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): To treat male infertility, a single sperm is injected directly into a single egg to achieve fertilization, and the resulting embryo is then placed in the uterus of the intended mother.

Egg donation (also called “ovum donation”): This procedure makes it possible for a woman who is past menopause or has poor-quality eggs to become pregnant and give birth using the eggs of another woman. Eggs are retrieved from the donor woman and fertilized with the intended father’s sperm using in vitro fertilization in the lab. The resulting embryos are transferred to the intended mother’s uterus. The baby has a genetic link to the father, but not the mother.

Gestational carrier: This is an option for women who are able to conceive but unable to carry a pregnancy. The intended mother’s egg is retrieved and, in the lab, mixed with her partner’s sperm. The resulting embryo is then transferred into the uterus of a gestational carrier – another woman who carries and delivers the child, but has no genetic link to the fetus she carries.

Surrogate: Similarly to a gestational carrier, a surrogate carries and delivers a child for another couple. Unlike a gestational carrier, however, the surrogate mother uses her own egg (usually mixed with the sperm of the intended father.)

Embryo donation: Infertile couples who have completed their families often have remaining embryos kept frozen in a lab. They can now donate these embryos to another infertile couple, to be implanted in the intended mother, who carries the pregnancy to term.


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