This article is from the Infertility FAQ, by Rebecca Smith Waddell firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Timed intercourse: As the name implies, this involves timing
intercourse for ovulation. The use of ovulation predictor kits may
make this more exact. The greatest pregnancy rate is achieved in those
who have sex the 5 days leading up to ovulation and perhaps ovulation
day (though some feel that is too late). Couples with low sperm
counts should have sex every other day, while daily intercourse should
be fine for those with normal and high counts.
Artificial insemination (AI): The insertion of sperm into the female
reproductive tract. Includes insemination at the cervix and
intra-uterine insemination (IUI).
At-home insemination (AHI): This can be done with donated sperm
(though proper testing is suggested before doing this) or with the
husband/significant other's sperm. Rather than using a turkey-baster,
as some jokingly suggest, this is best done with an oral medicine
syringe. Semen is collected in a cup (or thawed from donor), sucked
into the syringe, and slowly injected into the woman's vagina as close
to the cervix as possible.
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI): Semen is collected and "washed" or
"spun." The sperm is then injected through the cervix, into the uterus
using a small catheter. Check the IUI FAQ at
Intra-tubal insemination (ITI): This is similar to IUI, but the
catheter goes beyond the cervical opening and deposits sperm in the
fallopian tube. This is a more uncomfortable procedure and may not
greatly improve chances of success.
In vitro fertilization (IVF): Eggs and sperm are combined in a lab to
fertilize eggs outside the body. Embryos are transferred back 2-3 days
after egg retrieval.
Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): Basically one sperm injected
into one egg. Used for men with very low sperm counts to try to
increase the chance of fertilization.
Assisted hatching (AZH): Assisted hatching is putting a small opening
in the embryo's outer layer called the zona pellucida. The embryo must
break free of the zona to hatch out prior to implantation in the
uterine lining. AH is often used for older women (38 or over), who
often have more rigid zonas.
Non-surgical embryonic selective thinning (NEST): Similar to assisted
hatching, only the embryo is slightly shaved prior to implantation to
thin the zona pellucida rather than put a hole in it.
Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT): Combining eggs and sperm
outside of the body and immediately placing them into the fallopian
tubes to achieve fertilization.
Immature oocyte retrieval: Immature eggs are collected and grown in
the lab using fertility drugs. When mature, they are fertilized and
replaced in the same manner as IVF.
Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT): IVF with the transfer of the
zygote into the fallopian tube -- a combination of IVF and GIFT.
Stimulated cycle oocyte retrieval in (office) fertilization (SCORIF):
This is a stimulated cycle, like IVF, where the eggs are retrieved and
placed in a capsule with sperm. The capsule is then inserted into the
vaginal so that fertilization takes place within the woman's
body. After fertilization (2-3 days), the embryos are transferred into
the woman's uterus.
Non-stimulated (cycle) oocyte retrieval in (office) fertilization
(NORIF): Natural cycle where eggs are retrieved, placed in a capsule
with sperm, and the capsule is inserted into the woman's vagina for
fertilization. In 2-3 days the embryos are transferred in the uterus.
Donor egg: Use of another woman's egg to achieve pregnancy through
Donor sperm: Use of donated sperm for artificial insemination or
IVF. List of online cryobanks can be found at