Some people who are infertile are affected by conditions that prevent the sperm and egg from traveling through a fallopian tube. (This is where fertilization and the first stage of cell division take place.) Here are some assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures that are rarely used but may improve the chances of conception in the fallopian tubes. The first step of each of these treatments is superovulation. This uses medicines to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) uses multiple eggs collected from the ovaries. The eggs are placed into a thin flexible tube (catheter) along with the sperm to be used. The gametes (both eggs and sperm) are then injected into the fallopian tubes using a surgical procedure called laparoscopy. The doctor will use general anesthesia.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is similar to GIFT, but also uses in vitro fertilization (IVF). Eggs are stimulated and collected using IVF methods. Then the eggs are mixed with sperm in the lab. Fertilized eggs (zygotes) are then returned to the fallopian tubes with laparascopic surgery. From there, they will be carried into the uterus. The goal is for the zygote to implant in the uterus and develop into a fetus.
Pronuclear stage tubal transfer (PROST), similar to ZIFT, uses in vitro fertilization. But it transfers the fertilized egg to the fallopian tube before cell division occurs.
These procedures have higher costs and risks related to laparoscopy. And they don't provide as much useful information about embryo development as IVF does. For these reasons, these procedures are rarely used.
What To Expect
You can expect to return to daily activities after a routine laparoscopic procedure in less than a week.
Overall, having the assisted reproductive technology (ART)-related injections, monitoring, and procedures can be emotionally and physically demanding. Superovulation with hormones requires regular blood tests and frequent monitoring by your doctor. It also requires daily shots.
Why It Is Done
GIFT may be appropriate when:
- You have religious objections to fertilization taking place outside the body.
- You have unexplained infertility and only have insurance benefits for GIFT.
For GIFT or ZIFT, you must have at least one functional fallopian tube.
How Well It Works
ZIFT and GIFT are used rarely enough that specific success rates aren't nationally available. But the number of people who have babies after any assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure depends on different things. These include your age, history of previous births, and the cause of infertility.
Risks from laparoscopy (which may be used to transfer eggs) include pelvic infection, puncture of internal organs, and side effects from general anesthesia.
Assisted reproductive technologies—including GIFT and ZIFT—increase the risk of multiple births. A multiple pregnancy is high-risk for both the mother and the babies.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology