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How Does Artificial Insemination Work?

One of the most widely used forms of assisted fertility treatments is artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination. A question often heard at the Center for Reproductive Health is “How does artificial insemination work?”

Artificial insemination is a simple procedure in which prepared sperm is inserted directly into the uterus during ovulation. This reduces the time and distance that sperm have to travel, giving healthy sperm a better chance to unite with the egg.

Reasons Artificial Insemination May Be Recommended

There are many different reasons couples may experience infertility. Artificial insemination may be recommended as a treatment option when couples face certain challenges such as:

  • Problems with the reproductive system such as endometriosis, problems with ovulation or problems with the cervix
  • Male fertility problems such as decreased sperm motility, low sperm count or erectile dysfunction
  • Unexplained infertility

Artificial insemination also makes it possible for single women or same-sex female couples to have a child. It’s a minimally invasive form of fertility treatment that’s less costly than in vitro fertilization.

Artificial Insemination Process

Diagnostic tests and a review of your medical history are done before deciding whether artificial insemination is a good option for you. Fertility medication may be prescribed for a short time before the procedure to stimulate ovulation and this medication may help improve success rates. You’re monitored closely with blood work and regular ultrasounds to pinpoint the best time for the procedure, since sperm should be inserted during ovulation.

The sperm that’s used for the procedure may be from your partner or from a donor. The sperm sample is treated to separate healthy sperm from sperm of lower quality. This means that the sperm that’s placed in the uterus is highly concentrated.

Artificial insemination is an outpatient procedure that’s painless and only takes a few minutes. Sperm is inserted using a catheter and you remain lying on your back for a short time after this is done. There’s no need for anesthesia, and you’re able to go home soon after the procedure.

Some women experience mild cramping or some light spotting after the procedure. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid heavy lifting and reduce strenuous activities for the next few weeks. Two weeks after the procedure, you return to the clinic for a blood test that can determine if you’re pregnant.

Will Artificial Insemination Be Successful?

Whether the procedure is successful depends on a combination of factors such as your age and the underlying cause of infertility. If artificial insemination wasn’t successful, you may try it a few more times before considering other methods of fertility treatment. The success rate of artificial insemination declines with age. Women over the age of 40 may want to try in vitro fertilization instead rather than doing another cycle of artificial insemination.

The fertility experts at the Center for Reproductive Health understand how disappointing and overwhelming infertility can be. Call today to schedule a consultation or to obtain more information about artificial insemination or other forms of assisted reproductive technology.