Information for Patients
Assisted Reproductive Technology
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is used to treat infertility. It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman's egg and a man's sperm. It works by removing eggs from a woman's body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman's body. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
ART procedures sometimes use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. It may also involve a surrogate or gestational carrier. A surrogate is a woman who becomes pregnant with sperm from the male partner of the couple. A gestational carrier becomes pregnant with an egg from the female partner and the sperm from the male partner.
The most common complication of ART is a multiple pregnancy. It can be prevented or minimized by limiting the number of embryos that are put into the woman's body.
Infertility means not being able to become pregnant after a year of trying. If a woman can get pregnant but keeps having miscarriages or stillbirths, that's also called infertility.
Infertility is fairly common. After one year of having unprotected sex, about 15 percent of couples are unable to get pregnant. About a third of the time, infertility can be traced to the woman. In another third of cases, it is because of the man. The rest of the time, it is because of both partners or no cause can be found.
There are treatments that are specifically for men or for women. Some involve both partners. Drugs, assisted reproductive technology, and surgery are common treatments. Happily, many couples treated for infertility go on to have babies.
NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development