Reproductive Technologies: Definition, Examples & Risks

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  • 0:00 ART
  • 0:34 Intrauterine Insemination
  • 1:20 In Vitro Fertilization
  • 2:30 Third Party ART
  • 3:24 Risks
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

If a man and woman cannot naturally conceive a child, they have many options at their disposal to try and become pregnant. All of them are a form of assisted reproductive technology.


Bill and Amy have been trying to have kids for a long time. And try as they might, Amy has just been unable to get pregnant. This has been an utterly frustrating experience for them both. They go to see a doctor, who tells them that they may be candidates for ART, assisted reproductive technology. They're not sure what this means, but the doctor tells them there are three general types of ART and that while they all may help them have children, they aren't also without their risks. Let's listen in to the doctor's explanations.

Intrauterine Insemination

The doctor begins to explain that one of the ways ART can help Amy get pregnant is by way of IUI, or intrauterine insemination. Intra- just means 'within,' and the uterus is the womb. Basically, this procedure boils down to taking a man's sperm, which is where the word insemination comes in, and placing the sperm into the womb with a long and narrow tube. The doctor tells Bill that this will help in cases where he has problems getting an erection, if he has a low sperm count, or if his sperm have low mobility. He then tells Amy that such a procedure can also be helpful if she has scarring of the cervix, which is the lower portion of the womb lying adjacent to the vagina (the birth canal).

In Vitro Fertilization

Another option for Bill and Amy is IVF, or in vitro fertilization. The term in vitro means, literally, 'within a glass.' Basically, we're doing something in a test-tube like setting as opposed to within the body. In this case, the doctor explains, they'll take Amy's eggs and Bill's sperm and put them together in a dish in order to produce an embryo that will then be placed into Amy's womb, where it will develop into a baby.

Using IVF, we are ensuring the sperm fertilizes the egg, but IVF doesn't guarantee a successful pregnancy will occur. One major reason for this is known as embryo implantation failure. In simple terms, the embryo fails to stick to the uterine lining, which it must do in order to begin growing. The doctor tells Bill that IVF can be used in cases where there are problems with the quality or quantity of sperm. He turns to Amy and tells her that IVF is great in cases where the fallopian tubes have problems that may cause the eggs released by the ovaries to never reach the uterus.

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