What is Assisted Reproductive Technology and its types – Low Complexity
Low Complexity ART
We all have heard about infertility and in general we know about its techniques and treatments when it comes to deal with it. But, do we actually know the differences between them?
First, let’s define what is ART.
Assisted Reproductive Technology, also known as Assisted Reproductive Treatments, are a series of emotionally excruciating medical journeys that every individual that wants and dares to dream about having a family with previously diagnosed infertility, undergo and endure.
ART covers a wide spectrum of treatments.
It will depend on a proper diagnose, which ART level of complexity you will be referred to and/or suggested.
Let’s walk through this, shall we?
The first ones to define are within the Low Complexity Techniques/Treatments. There are only two of them.
The most natural and simple of it is called Ovarian Induction. This is recommended when women are not properly ovulating or not ovulating…at all!
The working way usually involves taking a hormonal medication (pills or shots), which tickles the FSH’s (follicle stimulating hormone) production in order for it to encourage the ovaries to develop one or more follicles and their correspondent oocytes (eggs) be released during induced ovulation.
Once the follicles grow, another drug (called the trigger shot, which is basically HCG — embryonic hormone) is applied for the follicles to release the oocytes into the womb and then the couple will be indicated to have sexual intercourse (also known as sexy time), in order for the probabilities of conception to increase.
This process is also called Programmed coitus. (Man, infertility can really take away the fun out of it!!!)
The second technique of the low complexity spectrum is the one that we have heard all along throughout our lives (even before we learned if we were infertile or not), is Artificial Insemination. Also referred as, Intrauterine Insemination or IUI.
This treatment is recommended when a woman has healthy tubes and uterus but for some reason can’t get pregnant. Usually has to do with a concern at the moment of having sex. For example, a man is not able to achieve an erection or has structural problems of the penis after trauma or surgery. Artificial insemination might also be used when semen has been frozen due to a male partner’s absence, prior to cancer treatment, has slow swimmers or simply a low sperm cells count.
It is basically another programmed coitus, but this time, your love date has the name of “cannula”. Yeah, basically just a really long, thin, flexible tube dude.
How does it work? Quite simple, actually.
The process is the same, you are prescribed with hormonal medication (pills or shots), they tickle the FSH’s production and it encourages the ovaries to develop one or more follicles for their oocytes (eggs) to be released during induced ovulation.
The only difference is that this time, your beloved sperm carrier will have his own alone time in the Collection Room,or how we Andrologists refer to, “THE MASTURBATORY”. Yeah, we need to make guys feel uncomfortable too! It is only fair, you’ll be legs up the air!
Once the sperm carrier gives a sample, the Andrology lab will capacitate it (as if the sperm cells were going to war), to get rid of debris, epithelial cells, slow swimmers, seminal liquid, etc., and retrieve the fastest, handsomest and perkiest sperm cells to leave them to culture in protein/sugar-enriched media. Then, the pretty sperm cells sample is loaded in the cannula.
Once this is completed, you will be taken into the gynecology consultation room, sit on the exploration chair, legs up and the Dr. will dilate your cervix with a speculum (yeah, we know, is incredibly uncomfortable) for him to further strategically insert the cannula into your uterus and inject the sperm preparation at the distal end of your uterus. This way, the sperm will linger around for a max of 70 hours for it to encounter with your eggs once they are released from the ovaries, drop to the tubes and fertilization to take place.
But seriously, none of these techniques are as simple as I have described them. Despite the fact these are the first skills you develop inside the Andro-IVF lab, as a Biologist, every case has its own complexities and each patient/case is unique and different.
When I created Med&ART Consulting, I made the compromise to myself that I was going to help people get pregnant and when treating patients will be as if you were speaking with a friend, but a friend that is highly specialized in the ART field. A friend that translates what the Dr. is saying, no fancy words.
We will take you hand by hand through each consultation, each test, each treatment, each desperation night, each anxiety attack, each tear and laughter, but most importantly? is our prime value to always be there when you need us. (yeah, even in the middle of the night!)
In the end, we’re a group of women that have struggled with infertility ourselves. Who better to understand what you’re going through!