Artificial Insemination Procedure

Certain types of infertility can be overcome by an artificial insemination. Artificial insemination has provided the joy to so many couples that haven't been able to conceive naturally. Are you and your spouse considering this method?
While artificial insemination isn't the panacea for all kinds of infertility, it does help couples overcome a host of problems related to conception. It is true that artificial insemination has been very useful when a couple are finding it difficult to conceive a child. Low sperm count is one of the most common circumstances which an it will help tide over. Other circumstances where it may help conception include endometriosis and 'unreceptive cervical mucus' in the female. The procedure aims to correct these problems by depositing the sperm directly into the cervix or the uterus. (depending upon the type of insemination chosen by the couple) Having said that, if the sperm of the husband is of poor quality or the sperm count is low, the couple may have to look for an external sperm donor. On the other hand, if the egg quality is poor, then artificial insemination may not help and the couple may have to opt for in-vitro fertilization with donor eggs.

Insemination Process
Before a couple go in for artificial insemination, a few check-ups must be done. These check-ups will determine whether the procedure will be successful or not. The first test is to check the sperm fertility of the husband. This checks whether the sperm of the husband is viable or there is a need for a donor. If the sperm of the husband is viable, the procedure is known as Artificial Insemination by Husband (AIH). If it is not viable, and the couple choose to go for an unknown sperm donor, the process is known as Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID). If the sperm of the husband is indeed viable, it is recommended that he does not ejaculate for 2-5 days. On the day of the insemination, the husband is asked to ejaculate. His sperm is subjected to a 'wash', where most of the useless matter in the semen is removed to make the sperm in it more effective and concentrated.

In females, the quality of the egg is checked for whether the eggs produced by the female can be fertilized. If they cannot be fertilized, going for artificial insemination may become a futile exercise. The menstrual cycle of the female is monitored first to see which part of the month is her ovulation time. At this time, a woman is supposed to be more fertile and hence the exercise will be more effective.

Once the tests are carried out, the doctor will recommend two main types: Intracervical Insemination (ICI) or the Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Each method has its own advantages. Let us look at both these procedures one by one.
  • Intracervical Insemination: Of the two, intracervical insemination is less common, and the cost of artificial insemination is lower. ICI is quick and painless and very beneficial in cases where the husband has a low sperm count. The sperm is then placed in the cervix of the female using a catheter with a syringe attached, which helps inject the sperms. The sperms then travel through the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. The ICI procedure takes about 10 minutes. The intracervical insemination procedure has shown a high success rate.
  • Intrauterine Insemination: Intrauterine insemination is a more common method. It is particularly useful for women with cervical mucus problems as the sperm bypasses the cervix and is placed directly in the uterus with the help of a catheter. The IUI procedure takes about 45 minutes. Intrauterine insemination is a longer and a costlier method, but has higher success rates too.
Artificial insemination has a fairly good success rate and has been able to give many families the bundle of joy that they have been longing for!
By Arjun Kulkarni
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