Artificial insemination is a medical technique that can help treat certain kinds of male and female infertility. The procedure makes pregnancy possible for those who had trouble conceiving in the past.
Doctors perform artificial insemination by introducing sperm directly into a woman’s cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes. The procedure can improve the chances for pregnancy by shortening the distance sperm must travel and by helping the sperm bypass any obstacles that prevent them from reaching the egg.
Sperm used in artificial insemination can come from the woman’s male partner, unless the male is sterile or when there is no male partner.
Many physicians and clinicians recommend artificial insemination is an initial form of treatment for infertility. Artificial insemination offers some key advantages. First, artificial insemination is a simple, well-established and thoroughly researched procedure. There are few side effects associated with artificial insemination. Lastly, artificial insemination is relatively inexpensive.
Artificial insemination helps couples and individuals expand their families under a variety of circumstances. A couple may be producing healthy sperm and eggs, for example, but a medical problem might prevent them from having intercourse.
Artificial insemination can also help women who struggle with endometriosis, a common and painful disorder affecting the lining of the uterus, or other abnormalities affecting the reproductive organs.
A female may have cervical factor infertility, a condition where the cervix does not produce a sufficient amount of the mucus that helps sperm move through the womb. In some cases of cervical factor infertility, the mucus contains substances that kill the sperm.
In rare cases, a woman can suffer an allergic reaction to the proteins in sperm. Her body’s response to these proteins can prevent her from getting pregnant.
A woman may want to raise a child alone, perhaps requesting sperm from an anonymous donor. AI can also help same-sex couples start or expand a family.
Artificial insemination is also helpful for male partners. The procedure may be appropriate in cases where the male has very low sperm counts or sperm that cannot make the journey through the cervix and up into the fallopian tubes.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a common type of artificial insemination. In fact, many people use the terms intrauterine insemination and artificial insemination interchangeably. Doctors often recommend IUI when the reason for a couple’s infertility cannot be determined.
In IUI, doctors insert sperm directly into the uterus. Before insertion, technicians may prepare the sperm. They may remove proteins that are causing an allergic reaction, for example.
Artificial insemination can help women and men hoping to expand their families. If you or someone you love is having trouble becoming pregnant, make an appointment with your local fertility specialist to discuss artificial insemination.