From ART to ZIFT

Women and couples undergoing fertility treatment are often confused by the different names for various treatments. In short, the various acronyms used can be a real alphabet soup. Understanding the difference between in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET), frozen embryo transfer (FET), and gamete intrafallopian tube transfer (GIFT) can help patients make informed decisions about different infertility treatment options.


What is IVF?

Considered the gold standard of fertility treatment, IVF involves the use of fertility medication to stimulate multiple eggs to grow during a single cycle. The eggs are then retrieved and combined with a sperm sample in the lab to create embryos. After growing for a few days, the embryos are transferred into the patient's uterus in hopes of pregnancy. IVF-ET is a term that captures both the overarching IVF process and subsequent embryo transfer.

Understanding FET

There are many reasons a woman may want to undergo an egg retrieval but not proceed with pregnancy right away. Finances, career, and lack of a solid partnership are all reasons to delay conception. For other women actively undergoing IVF, separating the retrieval and transfer into 2 cycles can increase the chances of success. Whatever the reason, cryopreservation can be used to freeze the eggs or embryos for future use. A frozen embryo transfer will be performed once the woman is ready to proceed. This approach involves defrosting the embryo and transferring to the uterus at a pivotal time in the cycle in hopes of pregnancy.

The GIFT approach

Gamete intrafallopian tube transfer is yet another option in the assisted reproductive technology (ART) world. The main difference between traditional IVF and GIFT is where the combination of egg and sperm occurs. With GIFT, a laparoscope removes the egg from the ovary. The man provides the sperm sample at the same time. Egg and sperm are then mixed in a catheter and placed directly into the fallopian tube. Women with unexplained infertility can benefit from the GIFT approach. The journey through the fallopian tube, which doesn’t happen with traditional IVF, is thought to nourish the embryo, increasing the chances of implantation.

Selecting the right treatment

Ultimately, the decision about which ART treatment to proceed with will depend on several factors, including the patient’s age, underlying health conditions, and infertility diagnosis. A trusted healthcare provider should be able to walk the woman or couple through all the options available and discuss the pros and cons of each treatment.

Getting pregnant with ART

For newcomers to the fertility world, the various procedures and different acronyms used can feel overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to receive further clarification. With a more thorough understanding of the technology, patients can better understand how different fertility treatments can help start or grow a family.