Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) vs. IVF

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) is a fertility treatment that can help women and couples who are experiencing difficulty conceiving become pregnant. If you're weighing your options, you may be wondering what the difference between GIFT and in vitro fertilization (IVF) is.

The Difference in Fertilization

While both gamete intrafallopian transfer and in vitro fertilization involve removal of your eggs or your donor's eggs and laboratory mixture with the sperm, the biggest difference between the two procedures is that GIFT involves fertilization within your body, and IVF requires fertilization within a laboratory.

During GIFT, your fertility specialist will mix the eggs with the sperm immediately after egg extraction, and then implant them directly into your fallopian tubes. The aim is for the egg to become fertilized in the usual place during the natural cycle, after which they will naturally travel to the uterus. During IVF, the eggs are fertilized in a laboratory, after which the fertility specialist will select the few most potentially successful fertilized eggs to implant into your uterus.

GIFT Is More Invasive

Because gamete intrafallopian transfer involves in-body fertilization, the procedure is more invasive than in vitro fertilization. During IVF, your fertility specialist will implant the fertilized eggs into your uterus through the vagina, so it doesn't require any incisions. GIFT requires that your fertility specialist use a laparoscopic procedure to implant the egg/sperm mixture into your fallopian tubes. This will require a small incision into your abdomen, which will likely leave a scar.

Candidates for the Procedures

Women who undergo GIFT must have at least one healthy fallopian tube and must not have tubal blockage or severe intrauterine adhesions. GIFT is usually an option for couples with male fertility problems or whose fertility problems are unidentified. IVF is often an option for women who have damaged fallopian tubes (even those who have had their tubes tied). Both procedures are helpful for women or couples who have had difficulty conceiving for at least a year, or for whom other options have failed.

IVF Has a Slightly Higher Success Rate

While a lot depends on the type of infertility problems you're experiencing, IVF has about a 31% success rate and GIFT has an approximate 25% rate of success. Although GIFT is ideal for couples with male fertility problems, IVF may actually have a higher success rate for them.

GIFT May Be Less Objectionable

You may choose gamete intrafallopian transfer over in vitro fertilization because some consider the procedure more ethical. Whether due to religious or cultural reasons, the fact that fertilization still takes place within your body might make GIFT less objectionable than IVF, in which fertilization takes place outside of the body under the guidance of your fertility specialist. Some people object that during IVF, your fertility specialist will select the fertilized eggs that seem most likely to succeed, while in GIFT, there's no selection involved.

Both in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer can increase your chances of successfully becoming pregnant. Both procedures have their pros and cons, so weigh your options and discuss the treatments with your fertility specialist before proceeding.