What to expect at a Fertility Clinic, Part 3 – Alternatives to IVF

alteratives to ivf

While IVF may be what you and your partner expect to face when you attend a Fertility Clinic, there are actually several alternatives to IVF which may be recommended for you instead.

Your fertility specialist will make their decision after considering all circumstances of your own particular case and in light of all your test results. However, whichever course of action is recommended for you, taking pre-Conceive can help the male partner to produce higher quality sperm and the female partner to produce healthier eggs, to increase the chances of success.

Its unique combination of therapeutic levels of 31 essential nutrients and other ingredients was the subject of Europe’s first clinical study into an all-natural fertility supplement, where it was shown to improve key fertility parameters in both women and men. Please feel free to talk to your specialist about pre-Conceive and how it can help you along your fertility journey.

Alternatives to IVF

The alternatives to IVF that may be recommended for you and your partner include:

Intra­cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

This is the most recently developed method for bypassing the problem of infertility. It is similar in many ways to IVF. The difference is that each ovum is injected with a single sperm cell.

ICSI ensures the penetration by the sperm of the outer layer of the  ovum, and it therefore facilitates the  beginning  of fertilisation. Practitioners recommend this method in cases where regular IVF has failed, and particularly in involving  oligozoospermia  (low  sperm count), or where  sperm is not ejaculated naturally.

Recent literature from Bourn Hall Clinic indicates that ‘there is emerging evidence of genetic abnormalities associated with male infertility’, and advises careful screening before embarking upon ICSI.

Embryo Donation

Couples who have previously undergone the process of IVF, and who decide that their family is now  complete,  may still have surplus embryos in storage. Clinics in some countries are now facilitating embryo donation, whereby these surplus embryos are made available for couples for whom IVF itself has not been successful, but for whom embryo transfer is a possibility.

In the UK, there  is a  government proposal that  children of IVF  where  embryo donation (or indeed the donation of sperm, or ovum) is concerned, will have the right at the  age of eighteen, to have information about their donor parent(s). If this is passed, it would conflict with  the  current practice of guaranteeing anonymity to the donor.

Gamete Intra­Fallopian Tube Transfer (GIFT)

In GIFT, a  maximum of three ova  are selected and  replaced  in the fallopian tube  almost immediately after  collection, together with a small sample  of sperm. Fertilisation actually takes place in vivo. This procedure requires the use  of laparoscopy, and  involves general anaesthetic.

Because  this method  involves placement of the gametes in the fallopian tubes, it requires that the woman has healthy tubes. The method works well for couples with unexplained  infertility, and mild endometriosis. The best results reported indicate a 26% live birth rate.

Egg Donation

Egg  donation has been common practice for several years.  The procedure  for obtaining the ovum is the same as in the case of IVF, except that the ova are harvested from a woman other than the one who will conceive  and carry the  baby. A woman who is herself a candidate for IVF might be asked to donate ova which are surplus to her own requirements. Alternatively, a woman who is a candidate for tubal ligation, or other gynaecological surgery, might be asked to donate her ova prior to surgery.


Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to conceive a child and carry it to term, on behalf of another woman who, for whatever reason is unable or unwilling to become pregnant herself. Theoretically surrogacy may involve the  use  of ova provided by the intended social mother, or by the surrogate.

Assisted Insemination by Husband (AIH) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Assisted Insemination, which was in  use  long  before IVF, is now  less commonly used, as it has little effect in resolving infertility due to sperm deficiency.  AIH does however offer  the  possibility of achieving  pregnancy in  cases where  men cannot achieve  or sustain erection, or where women have difficulties with vaginismus.

Theoretically, this does not necessarily require any medical intervention. Where the woman is ovulating normally (or will respond to drug therapy), and where the male  partner’s sperm is satisfactory, problems may still arise because  of the inability of the sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus of the female partner. This can be overcome by a  procedure  known as intra­uterine  insemination (IUI), which is a specific variation of AI.

Ovulation is induced, and sperm is placed high in the uterus, by means of a catether, thus avoiding the cervical mucus. IUI can also be used with reasonable success to treat sub­fertility caused by mild endometriosis. Where superovulator drugs are used to stimulate ovum ripening, it is different from IVF, in that the objective is to produce three ova, and no more.

Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID)

This procedure is rarely offered today. The donor has to have a full screening for hepatitis, AIDS, syphilis, and more. Also, it may be difficult for the couple to accept a situation in which only one of them will be a biological parent of the child.

Testicular biopsy

Testicular  biopsy is a surgical procedure  in which sperm are extracted directly from the testicles. This procedure is considered to be of benefit in cases where the male has a sperm count below 1 million. Its availability further reduces the need/demand for AID. Sperm can  be  obtained  in  this way and used for ICSI. Drug treatment for reduced sperm count has been largely abandoned.

Read more

Part 1- Fertility Clinic Tests & Screening

Part 2- The IVF Process Explained