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What is GIFT and how does it work?

What is GIFT?

With gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT), the preparation and monitoring of the growth of eggs is identical to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Instead of the eggs being fertilised “in vitro” in the laboratory, the healthiest eggs and sperm are placed together in the woman’s fallopian tubes. Fertilisation therefore takes place in the body, as it would if conception had occurred naturally. 


Is GIFT for me?

GIFT has been used with some success in cases where:

  • a couple has unexplained infertility
  • the woman’s fallopian tubes aren’t blocked or damaged
  • the man has a low sperm count, or there are problems with the sperm
  • there are objections to IVF on religious or other reasons
  • IVF has failed to result in a successful pregnancy.

However, the clinical guidelines on fertility issued by NICE (the National Institute for Health Clinical Excellence) state:

‘There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of gamete intrafallopian transfer … in preference to in vitro fertilisation in couples with unexplained fertility problems or male factor fertility problems.’

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How does GIFT work?

For women:

Step 1. Before proceeding with GIFT, it is essential that your fallopian tubes are known to be open and healthy. A tubal patency test is usually carried out as part of your assessment by the fertility clinic.   

Step 2. Up to the point of egg collection, the procedure for GIFT is the same as that for IVF.

Step 3. You will be anaesthetised and your doctor will make a small 5mm cut at the umbilicus. This is so they can insert a laparoscope to view your womb and fallopian tubes.

Step 4. Under direct vision through the laparoscope, eggs are removed from the ovaries. This may require two additional small incisions in the
lower abdomen.

Step 5. Up to three of the best quality eggs, if you are below the age of 40, or up to four eggs if you are over 40 are then mixed with the prepared sperm in a catheter (a fine, flexible tube).

Step 6. The doctor inserts the catheter via the laparoscope into the end of one or both fallopian tubes and deposits the eggs and sperm.

Step 7. You need a short rest before going home. You will be given medication to build up the lining of your womb and provide a good environment for any fertilised eggs.

Surplus eggs
If there are any surplus eggs following treatment, it may be decided to carry out IVF with these eggs and store any suitable resulting embryos for your future use.

For men:

On the same day that the eggs are collected, you are asked to provide a sperm sample.

If donor sperm are to be used, these are carefully thawed before being mixed with eggs in the catheter and deposited in the fallopian tubes.

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...more about gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT)

Page last updated: 14 April 2009

What are in-vitro derived gametes?

In-vitro derived gametes are sperm and eggs derived in the laboratory from alternative sources (embryonic stem cells for example).

Find out more about in-vitro derived gametes and see how their use is regulated by the HFEA.

...more about in-vitro derived gametes