Artificial insemination occurs when a doctor inserts sperm directly into the cervix, fallopian tubes or uterus of a woman to achieve pregnancy. The most common method is called “intrauterine insemination (IUI),” when a doctor places the sperm in the uterus.
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Artificial insemination is a simple procedure but with few side effects. It can help some couples who haven’t been able to conceive a child
What Type of Infertility Can Artificial Insemination Treat?
Artificial insemination can be used for most types of fertility issues. In cases involving male infertility, it’s often used when there’s a very low sperm count or when sperm aren’t strong enough to swim through the cervix and up into the fallopian tubes.
For women with endometriosis or those with anything abnormal in their reproductive organs, this procedure will be very helpful.
This method might also be the best for you if you have a condition called unreceptive cervical mucus, where the mucus that surrounds the cervix prevents sperm from getting into your uterus and fallopian tubes. Artificial insemination lets the sperm skip the cervical mucus.
Doctors also often suggest artificial insemination when they can’t figure out the reason a couple is infertile.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Ultrasound, ovulation kits, or blood tests would be used by your doctor to ensure you’re ovulating when you get artificial insemination. Then, your partner will need to provide a sample of his semen. The doctor will suggest that your partner avoid sexual intercourse for 2 to 5 days before the procedure so that his sperm count will be high.
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If you live close to the clinic, your partner may be able to collect a semen sample at home. If not, he’ll do this in a private room. The reason it helps if you live close to the doctor’s office is that the sperm must be “washed” in a laboratory within 1 hour of ejaculation.
Washing the sperm in a lab removes chemicals in the semen that may cause discomfort for a woman, and raises the likelihoods of getting pregnant. Technicians liquefy the sperm at room temperature for 30 minutes and add a harmless chemical to separate out the most active sperm. They use a centrifuge to collect the best sperm. Those are placed in a thin tube called a catheter and inserted into the uterus through your vagina and cervix.
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Artificial insemination is short and relatively painless. Many women describe it as similar to a pap smear. You may have cramping during the procedure and light bleeding afterward. Your doctor will probably have you lie down for about 15 to 45 minutes to give the sperm a chance to get to work. After that, you can get back to your normal activities. In some cases, you may be placed on fertility drugs before you have the procedure. Such drugs include clomiphene citrate (clomid). This helps your body ovulate multiple eggs.
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Success rates for artificial insemination vary. Some reasons why the chances might be lower that it will work are:
- Severe case endometriosis
- Older age of the woman
- Poor egg or sperm quality
- A lot of damage to fallopian tubes
- Blockage of fallopian tubes (IUI will not work in this case)
Other Issues With Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination won’t always work for everyone. Some couples try it several times before they achieve pregnancy. Others may not have any success at all.
Your doctor may suggest trying it at least three to six times with injectable hormones before moving on to another treatment. If artificial insemination doesn’t help you, there are other approaches you can try, such as in vitro fertilization with your own eggs or with donor eggs.