Fertility tourism is travelling abroad in the quest for availing proper medical treatment for infertility problems. The success of the entire venture rests upon the quality of treatment available and on the medical health of the intending couples and the third parties who are intimately connected to the process. Several medical jargons found in the lexicon of Human reproduction science seem to flood the discussion on fertility tourism. Terms like Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART), In-vitro fertilization technology (IVF), Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Surrogacy and surrogate mothers, Egg and sperm donation, Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are some of the very common terms used in texts on fertility tourism.
There are indeed distinctions between these terms which we are going to discuss in some detail in an attempt to clarify the basic ideas of fertility tourism to a layman.
ART and IVF:
ART is a combination of medical procedures used to facilitate fertilization and normal delivery to childless couples. ART includes but is not confined to IVF, GIFT, ZIFT and ICSI.
In contrast to above, IVF is a medical procedure where an egg is removed from the female partner or a professional egg donor and fertilized by a sperm cell outside the body of the female. The fertilized egg is allowed to divide and develop in a closely monitored laboratory environment for about two days and then is inserted back into the uterus of the women who may be a surrogate mother or may be the producer of the egg. The process is also known as test tube fertilization and the baby born known as the test tube baby.
ICSI and PGD:
Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, known as ICSI in its abbreviated form is an IVF process where a single sperm is directly pushed through into an egg with the aid of an injection. This method of fertility treatment is mainly done to get over male infertility issues. However, it may also be employed where the sperm fails to penetrate the eggs easily.
On the other hand, Pre implantation genetic diagnosis or commonly known as PGD is a genetic screening procedure where it is employed to ensure the embryo is free from any genetic abnormalities or diseases inherited from the suppliers of male and female gametes and carried down to the offspring. PGD permits closely exploring the DNA strains of the eggs or embryos for that matter and select those healthy ones that qualify for certain traits. This method is very useful when there are any previous chromosomal or genetic disorders down the bloodline and falls within the purview of In-vitro fertilization programs.
Gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy:
In Gestational surrogacy, pregnancy develops from the transfer of an embryo created by In-vitro fertilization in such a way that the child is genetically not related to the surrogate mother.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is impregnated naturally or by artificial methods and the child born is related genetically to the surrogate mother. Gestational surrogacy is legally more complex than the traditional surrogacy.
Agglutination, Amenorrhea and Anovulation:
Agglutination is a male infertility reason when the sperms clump together. Whereas a female infertility cause is Anovulation where the female doesn’t or rarely ovulates.
Amenorrhea is a female infertility condition where a woman doesn’t have menstrual periods.
Artificial insemination and Gamete Intra-fallopian transfer:
Artificial insemination is a procedure in which the sperms are inserted directly into the cervix of a female or into her fallopian tubes or uterus.
Gamete Intra-fallopian transfer is an assisted reproductive technique that involves the removal of sperms and eggs, fusing them together and setting them onto the fallopian tubes.
More terms need to be included….