Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is a fertility treatment option for women and couples who need assistance conceiving or who are using a surrogate mother. However, it's one of a number of options--and a rarely-used option at that, at least in the United States. When you compare it to similar treatments, you may understand way.
Zygotes vs Gametes
Zygote intrafallopian transfer, like the most popular fertility treatment of its type, in vitro fertilization (IVF), involves the implantation of zygotes. Zygotes are eggs that have been fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) requires the implantation of gametes, which is a not-yet-fertilized egg/sperm mixture. The difference affects two aspects of the procedure.
The first is the success rate. Fertility treatments that utilize zygotes instead of gametes have a higher rate of success because they don't rely on fertilization to occur within the body. ZIFT, for example, has an average success rate of just under 30% and IVF has a success rate of about 31%, but GIFT has a success rate of a little less than 25%.
The second is the ethical question that procedures that use zygotes may raise. Some people disapprove of how human selection is involved in the zygote implantation process and how the zygotes most likely to succeed are implanted, while the rest are destroyed or discarded. GIFT doesn't involve any human selection or discarding; fertilization takes place within your body. This also actually decreases your risk of having multiple births, which is as high as 35% with ZIFT and IVF.
While zygote intrafallopian transfer and in vitro fertilization both use zygotes, ZIFT is actually much similar to gamete intrafallopian transfer when it comes to the implantation process. Both ZIFT and GIFT use a more invasive implantation process during which the zygotes or gametes are implanted through an incision in your abdomen directly into your fallopian tubes. You may need to be put under anesthesia or at the very least, you'll need local anesthetic on your abdomen because of the invasiveness of the procedure, and you'll be left with a visible scar afterward.
In vitro fertilization involves implantation through the vagina directly into the uterus. It's less invasive because no incisions need to be made and you also won't need any anesthetic. You will, however, feel some discomfort and slight pain during the procedure, but the process should not be overly painful.
Difference in Recovery
Being more invasive, both zygote intrafallopian transfer and gamete intrafallopian transfer require a longer recovery time. With both ZIFT and GIFT, you'll likely be kept at the hospital or clinic for observation for a few days so that your fertility specialist can determine whether or not implantation has been successful and make sure that you don't have any negative reactions to the surgery. With IVF, you'll need a few hours of observation and may be able to be discharged the same day.
Only about two to three percent of fertility treatments in the United States are zygote intrafallopian transfer procedures. However, if you like some aspects of GIFT and IVF, the one that uses aspects of both, ZIFT, may be the best choice.