Gamete intrafallopian transfer, also called gamete intrafallopian tube transfer, is a treatment for women who are having difficulty conceiving a child. It is used to place a mixture of eggs and sperm in a woman's fallopian tube, which is a tube that carries a woman’s egg to her uterus. If the procedure goes as planned, at least some of the eggs are fertilized in the fallopian tube.
Fertility doctors may recommend gamete intrafallopian transfer for a single woman or couple who has tried to conceive a child for one year or more and has been unsuccessful. It can be used to treat women who are infertile for a wide range of reasons, but may be ineffective for women with certain conditions that involve the fallopian tubes or uterus. Among these conditions are blocked fallopian tubes, significant damage to the tubes, and structural problems of the uterus. Intrafallopian gamete transfer can be used to treat couples who are dealing with male infertility, but in vitro fertilization is considered a more effective option in such cases. In vitro fertilization involves placing already fertilized eggs in a woman’s uterus.
If a woman chooses to undergo gamete intrafallopian transfer, a fertility specialist gives her medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce many eggs instead of just one. Once the eggs have matured enough, the doctor removes them from the woman’s body using a procedure called aspiration. A few of the eggs are mixed with approximately 200,000 sperm right after they have been removed form the woman’s ovaries. Finally, the fertility doctor injects the sperm and egg mixture back into the woman’s body using a minor type of surgery called a laparoscopy and waits to determine whether a pregnancy will develop.
The laparoscopic surgery used to place the sperm and egg mixture into a woman’s fallopian tube is performed through very small incisions in her abdomen. This allows the doctor to thread a thin tube with a small, attached camera into her body. He then uses another type of thin tube, called a catheter, to inject the sperm and eggs into her fallopian tube.
Generally, women who opt for gamete intrafallopian transfer have about a 50-percent chance of conceiving a baby. Often, older women have a lower than 50–percent chance of conceiving with the help of this procedure. If an older woman produces many eggs, however, her doctor may place more of them in her fallopian tube than he would if she were younger. This may help to make her chances of conceiving equal to a younger woman’s.