Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer
Although not the most popular ART (assisted reproductive technology) method, gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) has helped about 2% of infertile couples using ART conceive.
How It Works
Similar to IVF, women undergoing GIFT begin by taking medication to stimulate the maturation of their egg follicles. Before the eggs are naturally released, your doctor retrieves them using the same method as in IVF. Next, your eggs, along with a semen sample provided by your partner, are immediately placed in a tube. Through laparoscopy, a type of surgery that involves making a small incision just below your navel to insert a tube, the eggs and sperm are then placed in your fallopian tube. The entire procedure, from egg retrieval to egg and sperm transfer, is done under anesthetic.
Once the eggs and sperm have been transferred to your fallopian tube, fertilization is allowed to happen naturally. If any eggs are fertilized, they will then travel down your fallopian tube to your uterus for implantation. Usually, about four eggs are transferred back to the fallopian tube. The entire process, from beginning the follicle stimulating drugs to transfer of the eggs and sperm, can take between four and six weeks. Two weeks after the transfer has been done, women can take a pregnancy test to see if the procedure was successful.
Am I A Candidate?
There are a variety of reasons why a couple may choose to have GIFT. For some, it may be against their religious or moral beliefs for fertilization to happen outside of a woman’s body. Women with ovulatory disorders or cervical problems may also prefer to use this technique.
For GIFT to be a possibility for you, you need to have at least one unblocked and functioning fallopian tube. Your partner needs to be able to provide a decent semen sample. In some cases, men with a low sperm count may be able to take advantage of this method, as well.
The Downside of GIFT
As with all fertility treatments, GIFT does have some drawbacks. First, the fertilization process cannot be observed, meaning that there is no guarantee any of the eggs will be fertilized. Secondly, any embryos that do develop cannot be assessed for quality as they can in IVF.
GIFT also requires invasive surgery. However, the fact that the surgery is done by laparoscopy means that scarring is minimized and the whole procedure can be done on an outpatient basis. As well, a woman’s risk of an ectopic pregnancy increases with GIFT. Moreover, the price tag of $8,000 to $10,000 per cycle that comes with the technology can be a deterrent for many couples.
Approximately 35% of women are able to get pregnant through GIFT while 27% of women will have a live birth. Since several eggs are transferred back to the fallopian tube, there is an increased chance of a woman having a multiple birth. In fact, about 35% of GIFT pregnancies result in multiple births. While this is fantastic news for many parents, it is important to be aware that there are more risks associated with a multiple birth pregnancy.