Artificial insemination (AI) is a medical procedure used to treat infertility problems by introducing semen directly into the uterus to increase a woman’s chance of pregnancy. There are several methods used for AI and the most common method used is intrauterine insemination (IUI) which is the least expensive compare to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
When do you need artificial insemination (AI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is used when men experience infertility problems such as low sperm count and reduce sperm motility. IUI is ideal for women with infertility problems caused by overgrowth of tissues that developed in the pelvic cavity preventing women from getting pregnant.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can also be used as an alternative way to conceive if you are not able to get pregnant naturally because either of you are not able to have sexual intercourse due to sexual problems or sexual difficulties.
Men’s sexual problems may include erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. Women’s sexual problems may include painful intercourse that deters them from having sexual intercourse. Sexual difficulties caused by disabilities, illnesses, medications or surgeries can deter both men and women from having sexual intercourse.
Artificial Insemination (AI) Process
If you are in heterosexual relationship your partner’s sperm would be used for artificial insemination to get you pregnant. However, if you are a woman in same sex relationship or your male partner is infertile you can go through artificial insemination by obtaining donor sperm from commercial sperm banks.
If your male partner is providing sperm sample for intrauterine insemination (IUI), semen are collected from self masturbation and provided to the clinic. The collected semen is “washed” in a lab to separate motile sperms from seminal fluid and remove non-motile sperms to increase the chance of fertilization.
If you are obtaining donor sperm from commercial sperm banks, sperm sample would have been collected by the sperm bank from donors and frozen for particular period of time. The donors are tested to be certain they are free from any diseases that can be transmitted through the sperm. The donor sperm is shipped to the recipient using a special freezing extender that helps to preserve the sperm. The sperm will be thawed when it is needed for intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Before proceeding with IUI, you would be tested to be certain you have at least one working fallopian tube and ovary on the same side otherwise IUI will not work if you have blockage in the fallopian tubes that can block the release egg traveling from ovary to the uterus.
Artificial Insemination (AI) Procedure
Depending on your infertility problems, you may or may not be given fertility medications to help stimulate ovulation. Fertility medications are not recommended if you don’t have problems with natural ovulation. Ovulation predictor kit can be used to detect the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine to predict when you are most likely to ovulate.
IUI is performed right after ovulation because the mature egg has been released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. You are most fertile around this time with higher chance of getting pregnant. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure involves loading the washed sperm into a catheter and injecting directly into the uterus to increase a woman’s chance of pregnancy.
If you are taking fertility medications along with intrauterine insemination (IUI), you have high chance of developing multiple pregnancies. Multiple birth increases the risk of pregnancy complications and these may include premature labor, birth defects, low birth weight, or miscarriage.
Fertility medications may also increase the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) a rare condition that causes ovaries to swell and can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, and weight gain.
IUI is a simple procedure that takes only few minutes to complete and do not require pain medication. After IUI procedure is completed you can rest for a short time and go about your regular normal activities. You will need to wait for about 2 weeks before you can take a pregnancy test.
You have higher success rate of getting pregnant with intrauterine insemination (IUI) if you are under the age of 30 and your success rate decreases as you get older. If you are over the age of 40 and you fail to get pregnant from the first attempt of intrauterine insemination (IUI), your next recommended option is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).