Understanding Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

In the last several decades, science has made exponential leaps and bounds with regard to helping parents who are struggling to conceive children. The field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is advancing rapidly, and there are more options than ever available to help parents who want to have children, but for one reason or another have not been able to become pregnant through traditional means.

ART is an umbrella term referring to any form of technology used to help achieve pregnancy. It is oftentimes used in cases of infertility, and it can be a godsend for couples with few or no other options for creating the family they desire.

Infertility and other forms of impaired fecundity—meaning the inability to have a child—affect men and women nearly equally according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and some estimates claim that as much as 12% of people between the ages of 15 and 44 are affected.

In this blog we have detailed some of the most common forms of ART available to couples and how they work.

Fertility Treatments

Infertility amongst both men and women accounts for a large percentage of cases requiring the use of ART. Infertility can be caused by hormone imbalances, damage to reproductive organs, or other issues such as a tube blockage. There are various types of both medicinal and surgical treatments available to help with infertility. The type of treatment a patient requires will depend on the unique circumstances of their infertility, and will vary from person to person.

In Vitro Fertilization

The term “in vitro” is Latin for “within glass.” Thus, in vitro fertilization generally occurs when the process of fertilization physically occurs outside the body, usually in a glass dish. The process involves the collection of mature eggs from the female which are then combined with sperm outside the body. The male gametes could come from the partner of the woman or potentially from a donor depending on the circumstances. Once the egg is fertilized, it will be implanted in the uterus of the woman who is trying to achieve pregnancy or in a surrogate. There are numerous different in vitro techniques available, and a specialist can advise you on the most effective measure for your situation.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is the process by which a volunteer surrogate mother will have a fertilized egg implanted in her uterus and she will carry the child to term for the natural parents. In cases involving in vitro fertilization, the child will not have any DNA from the surrogate mother, only from those who provided the gametes for his or her creation. This is known as “gestational surrogacy.” On the other hand, a surrogacy arrangement could entail a woman providing the eggs for the child and carrying the child to term, but relinquishing parental rights over the child to the parents for whom she was serving as surrogate. This is known as “traditional surrogacy.” As you can imagine, when it comes to parental rights and surrogacy situations, there are numerous legal implications that must be considered.

Artificial Insemination

A couple may elect to eschew natural insemination in favor of measures that do not involve intercourse. In such cases, sperm from either a donor or the father is literally inserted into the uterus of the mother in order to achieve pregnancy. There are varying degrees of technology used in such procedures ranging from extremely simple to more complex procedures.

Keep in mind, this is by no means an all-inclusive list of potential ART methods, and the field is constantly changing and advancing. It is imperative that you consult with a doctor who specializes in assisted reproductive technology before you do anything else. The NC Adoption Law Center can assist you in finding a doctor to suit your situation, and with any legal challenges or complication that could arise from the use of ART. Give us a call today to learn more.

Written by N.C. Adoption Law Center

N.C. Adoption Law Center

We work hard to provide all our clients with the best and and most helpful legal services. Our attorneys specialize in adoption and other family law cases including divorce, child custody, child support, guardianship, and more.