Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, is a blanket term for a number of medical procedures used to address issues concerning reproductive functions of the human body. Not everyone can have children naturally. With ART, science steps in to provide these people with a choice they would not have had otherwise.
In the absence of any abnormalities, a heterosexual couple has about a 25% chance of conceiving per menstrual cycle. 60% of couples achieve this goal within 6 months, 80% achieve this within a year, and 90%—within 18 months.
The chances of success are largely dependent on timing. The ideal time to conceive is during the “fertile window”, which is a few days right around the time of ovulation (about two weeks before menstruation). An egg will survive in the fallopian tube for 12-24 hours - the aim is to have a sperm fertilize the egg within this time span. Sex is recommended at least three times a week for a couple trying for a baby.
Both men and women are affected by infertility, the numerous possible causes ranging from genetics to certain diseases to lifestyle choices. It’s important that both individuals consult their doctor together in order to size up the situation as a whole, discussing any habits or circumstances that might inhibit conception, as well as medical history and fertility assessment procedures.
In some cases, switching to a healthier lifestyle (quitting smoking/drinking, making dietary adjustments, regulating bodyweight) can sufficiently improve fertility. In others, the solution may be surgically removing fibroids or endometrial scarring that affect the shape of the uterus and make it more difficult to conceive, surgically removing a blockage in the vas deferens, or regulating hormones with hormone treatments.
ART is no walk in the park—it can be emotionally difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Prospective parents should weigh their options carefully before moving forward with any serious procedures.
What are the risks of ovarian stimulation? How can artificial insemination benefit non-conventional couples? Read more about Assisted Reproductive Technology here.