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Author: Amanda Soderlind

This lesson will explain causes of infertility in males and females as well as identify options for those coping with infertility.

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Source: Video and Images Created by Amanda Soderlind

Video Transcription

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Welcome to this lesson today on infertility. Today we will be discussing the causes of infertility, as well as methods for coping with infertility. So infertility is the inability of one or both parents to conceive a child.

So there are various different factors that can contribute to a person being infertile. And these can include hormones, possibly a low sperm count for the male, or defective sperm. For the female, it could be poor quality oocytes. And it could also be anatomical issues involved as well. So there are various reasons. But these are a few common reasons that a person could be infertile.

So one of the ways that people often will cope with infertility is by using fertility drugs. So fertility drugs will help to boost fertility by boosting FSH, which is Follicle Stimulating Hormone. So fertility drugs given to a female will help stimulate the release of FSH, which will then trigger ovulation.

And another way that fertility drugs are used is that sometimes a highly-purified form of FSH will just be directly injected into the female's bloodstream, which then again will also help to trigger ovulation. So fertility drugs boost FSH and help trigger ovulation in the woman.

Some other ways of coping with infertility involve assisted reproductive technologies, which include artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization. So artificial insemination is a process in which semen are injected into the vagina or uterus by a syringe around the time of ovulation. So semen, as I mentioned, are directly injected into the vagina or uterus around the time the woman is ovulating.

So this is actually a good option for a man who has a low sperm count and maybe that's the reason that they're unable to conceive a child, is because of that low sperm count. So artificial insemination allows the sperm to be concentrated so that they have a better chance of fertilizing an egg. So that's artificial insemination.

In-vitro fertilization is another type of assisted reproductive technology. So in-vitro fertilization involves sperm and oocytes being placed in a glass dish to become fertilized. So the sperm and oocytes are placed in a glass dish to become fertilized. And then days later, the embryos are transferred into uterus.

So fertilization is taking place outside of the body, sperm and oocytes being fertilized outside of the body and then transferred into the uterus. So this can actually be done if both partners' gametes are OK, you can use the gametes of both partners. Otherwise, donor gametes can also be used.

And there is actually some ethical debate that goes along with this a little bit, because oftentimes there will be extra embryos that are unused. And sometimes these extra embryos will be frozen and can be used if the couple later in the future wants to use in-vitro fertilization again. Or sometimes they can be used for stem cell research. So there is some ethical debate that goes along behind what to do with these unused embryos.

So kind of two variations of in-vitro fertilization involve GIFT and ZIFT. GIFT stands for Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer. So basically what this is is the sperm and the oocyte are collected, and then placed into the ova duct separately.

So the sperm is placed into the ova duct of the female. The oocyte is placed into the ova duct of the female. And then they will hopefully fertilize-- the sperm will then hopefully fertilize the oocyte. So the gametes, the sperm and the egg, are placed into the fallopian tube in hopes that they will become fertilized.

ZIFT stands for Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer. Now what happens in this case is that the oocytes and sperm are placed in a lab dish. They're fertilized outside of the body to produce a zygote. And then the zygote is placed into the ova duct.

So in this case, we're placing the gametes into the ova duct. They haven't been fertilized yet. In this case, we're placing the fertilized zygote into the ova duct. So that's the difference between GIFT and ZIFT.

So this lesson has been an overview on causes of fertility and ways to cope with infertility.

Terms to Know
Artificial Insemination

The process of inserting a needle into the vagina and inserting semen into the female.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

When ova are surgically removed from the ovaries and inserted into the fallopian tubes/oviducts along with male sperm to induce fertilization.

In-Vitro Fertilization

When a woman’s ova are fertilized by sperm in a Petri dish and later inserted into the mother for implantation.


When one or both partners are unable to conceive a child.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

When ova are surgically removed from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a Petri dish; the fertilized zygotes are inserted into the fallopian tubes/oviducts.