Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

The premise of this treatment is by extracting oocytes (eggs) from the female patient and transferring the oocyte and spermatozoa into the ampulla of the fallopian tube.

Infertility poses both a burden and hopelessness to couples and individuals seeking pregnancy. However with new advances in assisted reproductive technology, those afflicted with such issues may achieve fertility. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer also known as (GIFT) is a procedure developed in the early 1980’s as an assisted reproductive technology. The premise of this treatment is by extracting oocytes (eggs) from the female patient and transferring the oocyte and spermatozoa into the ampulla of the fallopian tube. This allows for the natural process of fertilization to still occur in a modified in-vitro fertilization technique. Candidates for GIFT vary from female or male factor infertility and those with idiopathic infertility. GIFT can be done semi invasively by ultrasound guided needle transfer however most are still done via laparoscopy rendering less desirable compared to IVF.

Candidates for Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) include women who have a functioning fallopian tube either one or both, men with unexplained fertility or decreased sperm count, failed IVF attempts or male and female physical anomalies preventing natural conception. Though IVF has been shown superior to GIFT, it is nonetheless a method of fertilization that some may result in pregnancy for those seeking children.

A single Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) process is achieved during a month long cycle. The female patient is required to produce oocytes via ovarian hyperstimulation by taking fertility medications or timing of their natural cycle. A reproductive specialist or fertility specialist such as Reproductive endocrinology and infertility physicians (REI) or your OB GYN will conduct appointments to ultrasound the ovarian follicles and test for maturity. A specialist will also check for fallopian tube patency to rule in if the fallopian tube is capable of the fertilization. Once the tube and follicles are deemed mature and ready, another fertility medication hormone known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) will be given for ovulation to occur. 24-36 hours post hCG, the oocytes are harvested. The patient is under anesthesia during extraction as a minor incision is made laparoscopically through the abdomen to the ovaries where the oocytes are removed.

Afterwards, the oocytes are returned via a catheter and injected into the tubal ampulla alongside the male’s spermatozoa laparoscopically. The female patient is advised to take progesterone-increasing medications to allow thickening of the uterus lining for implantation. The patient is advised to take rest and return to normal activities after a day. This process then allows fertility to hopefully take place and produce a viable embryo ready to be implanted in the uterus and maintain pregnancy. The typical number of oocytes injected vary from one to two with for those <40 years of age and up to four for those >40, along with > 50,000 sperm.

Several side effects and results may occur in those interested in GIFT. Hormone stimulation may result in uncomfortable symptoms ranging from anxiety, migraines, excessive sweating, edema and should be avoided in those with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). The risk of multiple gestations is a possibility as more than one oocyte is implanted during GIFT. This can be a risk for the expecting mother as well as emotional distress to those who require a single gestation. GIFT requires anesthesia and semi invasive procedures which can heighten cautions in the patient. Uncertainty to whether the eggs will be fertilized or not is another risk associated with GIFT patients have to consider during unsuccessful fertilization.

Overall, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) is an ART procedure that allows women with patent fallopian tubes and inability to conceive previously to allow fertilization. Due to the process taking place in the fallopian tubes, distinguishes it from other ART procedures for those ethically concerned of artificial insemination. GIFT has resulted in many pregnancies for those wanting children. Once the risks and benefits are assessed, GIFT may be a treatment option for you as well.

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