Artificial insemination or AI is a type of fertilization procedure that involves inserting a sperm into a woman’s cervix or uterus.
Intrauterine insemination or IUI is the most commonly used form of artificial insemination. It also has the best success rate compared to other types.
Other forms of AI also include intratubal insemination (ITI), intrauterine tuboperitoneal insemination (IUTPI), and intracervical insemination (ICI).
Types of Infertility that AI can Potentially Treat
AI is commonly used for any type of fertility issues including very low sperm counts or low sperm motility.
It is also the treatment alternative for women who are diagnosed with any reproductive organ abnormalities like endometriosis.
Women with hostile cervical mucus are also considered good candidates for this treatment. The cervical mucus plays a significant role in the process of fertilization (it’s supposed to protect and ensure the safety of the sperms as they travel through the cervix.)
However, in the case of hostile cervical mucus, the mucus is too thick that the sperms can’t get inside the cervix.
With AI, the sperms no longer need to go through the cervix anymore.
Most doctors would recommend this type of technique especially when they can’t determine the cause of the infertility.
What to expect during the process
During the treatment, your menstrual cycle will be monitored through ultrasound, blood tests, and ovulation kits in order to ensure ovulation during the process.
Once you’re ovulating, your partner will have to produce his semen.
Most doctors will advise your partner to abstain from sex for at least two to five days to prior to the procedure to ensure higher sperm count.
The sperms collected from your partner will be “washed” in a laboratory in order to increase the chance of fertilization as the unnecessary chemicals are removed.
This involves liquefying the sperm at room temperature for 30 minutes. After that, a chemical is used to separate the most active sperm.
A centrifuge is then used to extract the best sperm.
Artificial insemination is a quick and painless procedure. In fact, most women who have experienced it would say it’s a bit similar to a Pap test.
During IUI (intrauterine insemination) the sperm is put directly into the uterus using a fine catheter. The vagina walls are kept open with a speculum. The catheter is then introduced to the uterus via the cervix and the sperm being pushed through the catheter.
Some women may experience a few discomfort in the process like cramping. There would also be some light bleeding after the procedure. You will have to lie down for a few minutes to ensure that the sperm can do its job successfully.
After that, your doctor will allow you to resume to your usual activities.
In some instances, a fertility drug like Clomid will be prescribed by your doctor to stimulate ovulation prior to the procedure.
Unlike other fertilization alternatives that utilize more advanced technology, the pregnancy success rate for women who use artificial insemination is often low.
Some factors that can reduce its success rate often include, age, poor sperm quality, poor egg quality, severe endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, and severe damage of the fallopian tubes (which are usually caused by chronic infections.)
However, it has its own key advantages as well in terms of cost and how it’s done.
AI is fairly a simple procedure that involves only a few side effects. Aside from that, it is more affordable compared to the other types.
Most fertility specialists recommend AI as the first recourse before resorting to more advanced types of fertilization.