Because the reproductive cycle in women is incredibly complex, in order to become pregnant everything must be right at the right time. It isn’t unusual for some couples to have a problem with fertility. There are many different types of infertility treatments and human artificial insemination is one of them. Ideally, artificial insemination makes pregnancy possible for couples who are unable to conceive.
Artificial insemination is a technique that is used to treat only certain kinds of infertility. It’s usually because there is an underlying problem with either the man or the woman. The procedure involves the injection of sperm directly into a woman’s cervix, Fallopian tubes, or uterus. The deeper the sperm, the shorter the trip the sperm has to undergo and the greater the chances of impregnation. It also helps to bypass any possible structural obstructions.
The most common form of artificial insemination is intrauterine insemination where the sperm is placed directly into the uterus. Placing the sperm in the cervix means the sperm must work its way up the Fallopian tubes where it hopefully encounters an egg.
Artificial insemination is popular on those occasions when men have very low sperm counts, or whose sperm isn’t strong enough to swim through the cervix and up the Fallopian tubes. It is also an option for women who have endometriosis or structural abnormalities of the reproductive system which makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg.
Women who have ‘unperceptive cervical mucus’ are also good candidates. This is a situation where the mucus surrounding the cervix is hostile to sperm and prevents it from getting into the uterus or the Fallopian tubes. Artificial insemination allows the sperm to bypass the cervical mucus entirely.
Another type of artificial insemination is known as vocal insemination. In this procedure donor sperm is deposited directly into the cervix. It’s relatively quick and usually painless. The cost of artificial insemination drops when compared to intrauterine insemination. Single mothers who use a sperm bank sometimes opt for this less costly procedure.
Sperm Banks and Sperm Donors
When a husband’s sperm is not ideal, married women may choose to be artificially inseminated with a donor’s sperm. Couples who are faced with infertility should not pass on this opportunity. One advantage of using donor sperm is that the genetics can be tested and screened thus reducing the likelihood of a child inheriting a genetic disorder.
Cost of Artificial Insemination
Although artificial insemination is not a sure-fire thing, there are some specific benefits. Most clinics that offer artificial insemination are self-funded yet operate on a commercial basis, but insurance companies do not often pay for artificial insemination.
This clinical procedure translates into a procedure that may be less costly than other infertility treatments. On the other hand, repeated attempts may require a significant cash outlay in order to achieve success.
Before a physician will evaluate a couple with the question of infertility they must have been actively trying to conceive for 18 months. However, that number is often lower if the woman is over age 32. Many reproductive specialists will schedule appointments and began evaluations for women over the age of 32 if they have been trying to conceive for six months or more.
To improve the chances of becoming pregnant, the reproductive specialist will often have the woman take fertility drugs before undergoing the procedure. These medications taken near the beginning of the menstrual cycle stimulate the ovaries into developing several mature eggs instead of the usual single egg.
Women are asked to use an ovulation detection kit. Positive results are confirmed through the use of ultrasound in the physician’s office. Sometimes the doctor will prescribe a medication that induces ovulation.
Once ovulation occurs, the partner produces a sperm sample which undergoes a selection process. This process concentrates the heartiest sperm into a small amount of fluid which the doctor then injects with a catheter directly in the cervix, in the uterus, or into the Fallopian tubes.
The entire process usually takes less than an hour. Depending upon the cause of infertility women usually undergo three to six cycles of artificial insemination before getting pregnant, or deciding to rely on an alternate treatment.
Success rates depend upon the woman’s overall health, the partner’s fertility, the age of the couples, whether or not fertility drugs are used prior to the procedure, and a host of other criteria and factors. Overall rates of becoming pregnant range between five and 20% with each attempt at artificial insemination.
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