What is Artificial Insemination?

Artificial Insemination Overview Artificial Insemination Overview

If you have fertility problems, your doctor may recommend artificial insemination, more commonly known as intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Artificial insemination is a process where sperm are injected directly into your cervix or uterus. 

Why artificial insemination?
Artificial insemination is used by many women and couples, including:
- Those with unexplained infertility
- Women who have cervical mucus problems
- Women choosing to conceive with help of a sperm donor 

Preparing the sperm
Before the insemination, your doctor will obtain the sperm sample, either from your male partner or a sperm donor. The sperm may be washed, processed and concentrated. This sperm “washing” removes the seminal fluid, which includes prostaglandins and other chemicals. Sperm washing activates the sperm, boosting your chances of pregnancy.

The artificial insemination process
Artificial insemination takes place around the time of ovulation. You will be carefully monitored to make sure your eggs are developing properly and that your uterus is healthy. Also, you may need to take ovulation-stimulating fertility drugs before and during the procedure.

Here is how artificial insemination works:
1. Your doctor performs an ultrasound scan to check your reproductive health and egg development.
2. The sperm is injected with a catheter (a tube about the size of a ball point pen refill) through the cervix and into your uterus.
3. You may be asked to stay on your back for 10 to 15 minutes.

After the insemination, a sponge may be inserted vaginally to keep the sperm inside. This sponge may be kept in place for up to several hours. 

Donor sperm and artificial insemination
If your partner has male infertility issues, you may be interested in using donor sperm during artificial insemination. Some couples may also choose to use donor sperm when a male partner is at risk of passing down a genetic disorder to his children.

You can get sperm from an anonymous donor at a sperm bank, or you may choose to use sperm from a friend. 

Getting pregnant with artificial insemination
Many women – single and married - get pregnant using artificial insemination. Success rates with artificial insemination seem to be highest for younger couples (under 35) and those with no known fertility problems. Success rates range from 50 to 86 percent, but many couples do require more than one insemination cycle to conceive.

The following options may boost your chances of conceiving with artificial insemination:
1. Receiving two inseminations per ovulation cycle
2. Using frozen sperm for the insemination
3. Taking fertility drugs

Also, by timing the insemination correctly with ovulation, you can increase your chances of making a baby.

Ask a doctor about artificial insemination

Sources
  • American Pregnancy Association
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • MedlinePlus
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
  • American Urological Association Foundation
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