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Artificial Insemination Vs. In Vitro Fertilization

With the number of options available, couples often have doubts related to artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. These are two different procedures that help couples with fertility issues to conceive a baby. The following article will cover information related to the differences between the two methods.
Couples who have difficulty getting pregnant the natural way, that is through sexual intercourse, seek medical help. There are two reproductive technologies available that help in impregnating a woman with ways that do not involve the coital method. It has been found that in vitro fertilization (IVF) gives better results than the artificial insemination (AI). Also, couples who opt for IVF have the option of choosing donor eggs or donor sperms as well. This gives rise to the debate between the two methods.

What is Artificial Insemination
This procedure involves placing the male sperm inside the woman's womb. In this process, the partner's sperms are collected and sent to the lab. Here, the slow and immobile sperms are separated out from the fast and healthy ones. These healthy sperms are then used for fertilization. The woman's ovulation cycle is monitored and when she is ovulating, the doctor places the sperms in her uterus. This is done with the help of a thin, flexible catheter which is then placed into the vagina and goes through the cervix right in the uterus. Then, the sperms are poured through the catheter and are placed near one of the fallopian tubes. This helps the sperms reach the fallopian tube faster and hopefully a fertile egg is released. As you can see, there is no high-tech procedure involved and does not take more than 30 minutes to be completed.

What is In Vitro Fertilization
IVF is one of the most common assisted reproductive technologies (ART) used. This is a complex procedure, where the eggs and sperms of couples are collected. These sperms and eggs are placed together in a petri dish in the lab. This helps the sperms fertilize the egg. After the eggs are fertilized, it leads to the formation of an embryo. The embryo is then implanted into the woman's womb after about 5 days of fertilization. The success rate for this method is very high as compared to its counterpart.

Difference Between Both Reproductive Techniques
Both these methods involve use of eggs and sperms from the couple wanting a child. These techniques also involve use of donor eggs or donor sperms in case the couples have ovulation problems or low sperm count. Yet, there are major differences between the two. The following table will cover information related to that.

Artificial Insemination In Vitro Fertilization
This procedure involves impregnating a woman with the help of frozen donated sperm or fresh sperms from the partner. IVF involves placing of eggs and sperms in a petri dish for fertilization.
A catheter is placed in the woman's cervix and sperms are placed near the Fallopian tube. This helps increase the chances of fertilization. Eggs are fertilized by the sperms in vitro (within the glass), outside the body, that is, womb.
The insemination procedure date should match with the woman's date of ovulation or it will fail to take effect. This process does not depend on the woman's ovulation cycle. However, one may have to monitor the ovulation cycle to extract the mature eggs for fertilization in the lab.
After placing the sperms in the womb, one has to wait at least 15 days to check for pregnancy. Fertilization takes place in a glass dish and the embryo is directly placed in the womb, with high success rates for pregnancy.
This is used in cases where the male partner has a low sperm count, suffers from premature ejaculation or is found to be impotent. It is also used in case of a woman with ovulation problems, in case the cervix is not sperm-friendly or the woman suffers from endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc. It is also used for a single woman and lesbian couples who wish to get pregnant. IVF is very helpful for couples where a woman's Fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked. It can also be used for women in the age group of 40 plus those who wish to get pregnant. The male partner with low sperm count or low motility sperms can also opt for this method. Apart from this, women with severe endometriosis, reduced ovarian reserve, etc., are also advised IVF. In most cases, after 5 to 6 failed cycles of AI, couples are advised IVF by their doctors.
The cost of this method is not very expensive and is affordable by most couples. On an average it may cost about $300 - $700. As IVF involves a complex process and use of controlled laboratory procedures, it is very expensive as compared to the other. The average cost is about $15,000 depending on the doctor and clinic you choose.
A little on the legal aspect of this procedure. According to most laws, a woman with the consent of her husband can conceive a child by this procedure from a donor sperm. This sperm can be from anyone other than her husband. The child born is recognized as the legitimate child of the husband. Many states follow the presumption law, where it is presumed a child born to a married woman is for her husband and he is designated as the father, even in case of this method. It involves fertilization outside the womb. If the egg used is of a donor, that is another woman, the birth mother is considered the child's legitimate mother according to law.

One is often asked to try the artificial insemination process. However, in case of many failed attempts or if either of the couple faces serious fertility complications, IVF is advised. Understand the pros and cons of both the processes and discuss them with your doctor. This will help you make a decision regarding which reproductive technique will help you start a family.
By Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Published: 6/17/2011
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