Inability to conceive or produce children even after 2 years of unprotected sexual cohabitation is called infertility. In India, often the female is blamed for the couple being childless, but more often than not the problem lies in male partner.
Specialised health care units (infertility, clinics) could help in diagnosis and corrective treatment of some of these disorders and enable these couples to have children. However, where such corrections are not possible, the couples could be assisted to have children through certain special techniques commonly known as ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies).
1. Test Tube Baby Programme
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) followed by embryo transfer (ET) is a method to treat infertility and commonly known as the ‘Test tube baby’ programme. IVF-Fertilisation outside the body in almost similar conditions as that in the body. In this method ova from the wife/donor (female) and sperms from the husband/donor (male) are collected and are induced to form zygote under simulated conditions in the laboratory.
(a) ZIFT (Zygote Intra Fallopian Transfer): The zygote or early embryos (up to 8 blastomeres) could then be transferred into the fallopian tube.
(b) IUT (Intra Uterine Transfer): Embryos with more than 8 blastomeres could be transferred into the uterus, to complete its further development.
(c) Embryos formed by in vivo fertilization (fusion of gametes within the female) also could be used for such transfer to assist those females who cannot conceive.
Transfer of an ovum collected from a donor into the fallopian tube (GIFT; Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer) of another female who cannot produce one but can provide suitable environment for fertilization and further development.
3. AI Technique
Infertility cases either due to inability of the male partner to inseminate the female or due to very low sperm counts in the ejaculates, could be corrected by artificial insemination (AI) technique.
In this technique, the semen collected either from the husband or a healthy donor is artificially introduced, either into the vagina or into the uterus (IUI-Intra Uterine Insemination) of the female.