An Introduction to Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is a common fertility treatment option for those who need assistance conceiving. Perhaps less widely known than in vitro fertilization (IVF), ZIFT has several benefits and disadvantages alike that set it apart from other fertility treatments.

The ZIFT Basics: Implantation

Zygote intrafallopian transfer is actually somewhat similar to another fertility treatment called gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), although it shares one common feature with in vitro fertilization. Like GIFT, ZIFT involves implantation into one of your fallopian tubes through an incision made in your abdomen. The benefit of this is that fertilization naturally takes place in the fallopian tubes and you're re-creating those natural conditions, perhaps increasing the chances that pregnancy will become successful.

The ZIFT Basics: The Zygote

Unlike GIFT, though, ZIFT involves the implantation of a zygote, which is a fertilized egg. (GIFT involves the implantation of an egg and sperm mixture.) Zygotes are also what's implanted during IVF. Because the egg is already fertilized before implantation, your chances of having a successful pregnancy increase significantly, as GIFT has a success rate of just under 25% and ZIFT has a success rate of just under 30%. However, IVF, which involves implantation of the zygote directly into the uterus via the vaginal opening, actually has the highest success rate (31%) of the three procedures.

Who Is a Candidate for ZIFT?

Women who have at least one healthy fallopian tube are usually eligible for zygote intrafallopian transfer. You cannot have ZIFT if you have tubal blockage, tubal damage or severe uterine adhesions or damage. There's also some difficulty with the procedure if the man's sperm has trouble penetrating an egg. ZIFT works best with women who are age thirty-four or younger and the failure rate of the procedure, as well as the potential for health risks to the mother and the child, grows slightly as the woman gets older.

Objections to ZIFT

Some women will still chose gamete intrafallopian transfer over zygote intrafallopian transfer despite the lowered success rate for a couple of reasons. The first is that ZIFT involves the selection of the most likely embryos to succeed, meaning that other embryos or destroyed or discarded. Some people also object simply to the selection process in that a fertility specialist is choosing which zygotes to keep and which to discard.

The second common objection is that ZIFT has a higher rate of multiple births because multiple zygotes are implanted at once. This could present additional pregnancy complications and/or raise the question of whether or not partial abortion is the best option for the health of the mother and the remaining children.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer has a slightly lower success rate than in vitro fertilization, but there are several advantages to choosing the procedure, particularly if you want to have as close an experience to natural conception as possible. A fertility specialist can help you decide which fertility treatment is best for you.