A Basic Guide to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

We live in a wonderful age of technology where couples who otherwise never would have been able to have their own children have a number of options available to them for doing just that.

Parents who would like to have a genetic connection to their children but for one reason or another are physically unable to conceive can utilize the growing field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). ART refers to any technology used to achieve a pregnancy and generally bypasses the process of intercourse.

There are nearly as many forms of ART available to potential parents as there are reasons for needing such technology. In this blog we’ve provided a basic guide to some of the more commonly used forms of assisted reproductive technology. This is not intended as an exhaustive list and there can be numerous legal ramifications to the various forms of ART so please call New Beginnings Family Law to learn more.

Fertility Treatments

One of the most common reasons for needing to utilize ART is due to one or both partners having issues with infertility. There are medical and surgical options for the various forms of infertility occurring in both men and women. Causes can include hormone imbalances, tube blockages, or damage to reproductive organs causing issues with ovulation or sperm production.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

While there are many different methods for in vitro fertilization available, in general it refers to any form of ART where the egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. In vitro literally means “in glass,” and the fertilization often occurs in a glass dish in a lab. This process usually takes around 2-6 days and then the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus of either the mother or a surrogate who will carry the baby to term.

IVF sometimes requires donor eggs or donor sperm depending on the extent and specifications of infertility issues for a particular couple, and is also sometimes used by same-sex couples and single people who would like to have a baby.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is an arrangement where a female volunteer carries and gives birth to a child in place of someone else who, for one reason or another, cannot or does not want to carry and give birth to the child themselves. As previously mentioned, surrogacy is sometimes utilized in order to carry an IVF embryo to term. This is known as “gestational surrogacy,” and since the surrogate was not involved in the creation of the fertilized embryo, the child will not have any genetic relation to her. This is the most common form of surrogacy in the US. “Traditional surrogacy,” on the other hand, involves naturally or artificially impregnating a surrogate such that she will be genetically related to the child, but does not keep and raise the child herself.

Artificial Insemination

Under some circumstances, a couple may bypass intercourse by physically inserting sperm into the potential mother’s uterus or cervix through artificial means. This can be a very low-tech version of ART and could utilize sperm from the potential father or a donor.

It is incredibly important that you consult with doctors and experienced professionals when thinking about utilizing a form of assisted reproductive technology. There is also a wide range of legal ramifications that you should take into account which can be quite diverse and sometimes complicated depending on your situation. We represent donors, surrogates, and potential parents in ART matters, so call New Beginnings Family Law to discuss your unique situation.