Assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) involve manipulation of sperm and ova or embryos in vitro with the goal of producing a pregnancy. Examples of ART are intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The choice of which treatment to pursue, if any, is strictly a personal one. Side effects, costs and expected success rates are important factors to consider when choosing a treatment plan.

Ovulation Induction (OVI)

Ovulation induction involves taking medication to induce ovulation by encouraging eggs to develop in the ovaries. Ovulation will be detected with LH-tests, or induced with an injection of pregnyl. This will increase the chance of conception through timed intercourse or  intra uterine insemination (IUI).

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)

Intra uterine insemination or IUI is a procedure in which after ovarian stimulation sperm that is processed in the laboratory is placed directly high in the uterus. IUI with homologous semen should be preferred as the first choice treatment to more invasive and expensive techniques of assisted reproduction in case of infertility of unknown cause or due to cervical or mild male factor.

Many variables may influence success rates after IUI treatment. Some factors such as female age, duration of infertility etc cannot be influenced. However overall live birth could be estimated at approximately 10/15% per treatment cycle.

Subsequently IUI has a good patient compliancy (low drop out rate), a low risk of OHHS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) and a low number of multiple pregnancies.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

One of the most popular methods of ART is  in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) involves the culture of eggs with sperm in a laboratory to create fertilized eggs, which develop into embryos. The embryos are allowed to grow up to 4 days and then one or two embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus.

Success rates of IVF are much higher than what they were two decades ago and the probability of a live birth has risen to more than 50%. However, conventional IVF is very expensive and as an example in the UK, it costs around £5,000 per cycle.

Low cost IVF

The Walking Egg Foundation has developed a new form of low cost IVF system. Results so far indicate that this system, called the Simplified Culture System (SCS) works as well as conventional IVF systems.

Each SCS cycle costs less than 200 euros (£159) using this system, not including staff and medication costs, which vary from country to country and with very low dose medication schemes we hope to perform SCS fertility treatments in The Gambia for less than 500 euros (£399)”

The Walking Egg Foundation is a charity which has been working with a group of scientists with the aim of reducing the cost of IVF while maintaining the quality. This would mean that access to IVF would increase both in the developed and in the developing worlds.

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