Treatments and tests

Assisted reproductive technology treatments

  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) covers a range of procedures that aim to help individuals achieve pregnancy and involve the handling of sperm, eggs or embryos outside the body.
  • ART includes artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures.
  • ART also includes surrogacy and donor assisted conception.

ART treatments may be used when there are issues with fertility, with carrying a pregnancy or giving birth, or where there is a genetic risk to the baby.

Preserving fertility – storage of sperm, eggs and embryos

Using assisted reproductive technology (ART) for fertility preservation involves removing sperm, eggs or reproductive tissue from the body and storing this for future use or creating embryos that are stored for future use. Fertility preservation is often considered when a person is undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery for cancer or another serious illness.

Fertility preservation, especially egg freezing, may also be considered if a woman isn’t ready to have a child yet but is concerned about reducing fertility as she gets older. It is important to know that in Western Australia a woman would still need to be eligible to undertake artificial fertilisation procedures, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in order to use any frozen eggs. Access to IVF is limited to people who are unable to conceive or give birth due to medical reasons, or are likely to have a child with a serious genetic abnormality or genetic condition. This means that even if a woman has had her eggs frozen she may not be able to use them if she is not eligible for IVF.

Read more about the storage of sperm, eggs and embryos.

Artificial insemination

Artificial insemination (AI) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure where sperm is collected and inserted into the cervix or uterus of a woman to try and achieve pregnancy.

AI may be used in donor assisted conception, fertility treatment or where there are other reasons why conception would be unable to occur through sexual intercourse.

Intra-cervical insemination (ICI)

Intra-cervical insemination (ICI) is when sperm is introduced to the woman’s cervix using a syringe.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is when sperm is introduced directly into the woman’s uterus using a long, fine tube.

IUI is performed by a fertility provider and will involve washing the sperm, to screen for health and infectious disease, before use. This involves separating out the sperm from the seminal fluid and removing any dead or slow-moving sperm.

AI may be combined with ovarian stimulation (taking medicines to induce the ovaries to release eggs) and/or ovulation tracking (using blood tests and ultrasounds to understand when ovulation is likely to occur).

Artificial insemination also occurs in a non-medical setting where this is arranged between private individuals.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) refers to a cycle of assisted reproductive technology procedures to collect eggs from a woman that are then fertilised with sperm outside the body. Sperm and eggs are combined in a laboratory dish. If fertilisation occurs, an embryo is then inserted into a woman’s uterus to try and achieve pregnancy.

Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is like IVF but fertilisation occurs by directly injecting a single sperm into the egg. ICSI is considered for use in cases of male factor infertility.

Read more about IVF and ICSI.

Donor assisted conception

Donor assisted conception uses donated sperm, eggs or embryos to try and achieve pregnancy. Assisted reproductive technology procedures (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilisation or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) are required in donor assisted conception. Donor sperm, eggs or embryos may also be used in a surrogacy arrangement. Donors may be known or unknown the recipients. Only altruistic (unpaid) donation is legal in WA.

Read more about donor assisted conception.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy refers to a type of assisted reproductive technology where there is an arrangement for a birth mother to carry and give birth to a child on behalf of the arranged parents who will raise the child.

Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedures are used to achieve pregnancy in a surrogacy arrangement.

Surrogacy arrangements must be approved by the Reproductive Technology Council (external site). After the birth of the baby the Family Court is required to transfer parentage from the birth mother (and her partner if applicable) to the arranged parents.

Only altruistic (unpaid) surrogacy is legal in Western Australia.

Read more about surrogacy.

Where to get help


Last reviewed: 31-05-2022
Acknowledgements

Reproductive Technology Unit

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