Infertility is a fairly common issue that affects more than 7.4 million couples across the United States (1). According to latest statistics reported in the peer reviewed Fertility and Sterility (1) journal, researchers reported that the current prevalence of infertility in US population is 15.5%.
Fortunately, with all the technological advancements and innovative treatment options available today, even infertile couples can also look for practical solutions to enjoy the blessings of parenthood. Artificial insemination is an effective and popular assistive reproductive technique that has helped hundreds and thousands of couples worldwide.
What Is Artificial Insemination?
As part of this procedure, semen sample is collected from the male partner (or a donor) and is directly deposited in the female genital tract (either uterus, fallopian tubes or cervix) after washing and preparation. It is recommended to practice abstinence for at least 3 to 5 days before collecting a semen sample in order to ensure a fairly high sperm count. The laboratory washing of semen helps in removing the chemicals to improve the chances of successful pregnancy.
The artificial insemination procedure aims at shortening the trip of sperms in the female genital tract, in order to increase the chances of successful conception. The success rate of the procedure is fairly high if performed in expert hands.
There are two primary types of artificial insemination; these are:
- intracervical insemination (ICI)
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Who Are Ideal Candidates For Artificial Insemination?
- Men who have erectile dysfunction or inability to ejaculate effectively.
- Men who are unable to successfully perform or complete the act of intercourse due to a medical or surgical condition such as uncontrolled diabetes, spinal injury, severe road traffic accident.
- Men who have a serious genetic condition and don’t want to transfer it in their offspring.
- Males who are sterile (or have low sperm count) can also get benefitted by artificial insemination by opting for donor sperms. According to a new study, the success rate of this procedure can be increased up to 86% if donor sperms are used.
According to a new study reported in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online (2), investigators suggested that following criteria should be met for a semen sample to be used for artificial insemination:
- Number of motile sperms after washing procedure should be between 0.8 and 5 million/ml
- More than 4% in the sample should be morphologically normal
- 30% sperms in the washed out sample should be motile
- 5-10 million sperms in the parent/ unwashed sample should be motile
- Likewise, women who have certain reproductive tract issues (such as endometriosis) or other serious anomalies of tubes can also get benefitted from this procedure.
- Women who have unreceptive cervical mucus – a condition that reflects a hostile environment in the female genital tract that restricts the entry of sperms beyond the cervix.
In order to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, your doctor may combine artificial insemination procedure with a variety of fertility drugs that are meant to induce ovulation of more than one eggs. Your doctor may conduct a number of tests to confirm ovulation before performing insemination.
What Should You Know About The Artificial Insemination?
The success rate of artificial insemination after one cycle usually ranges from 10 – 20%. Fortunately, most couples are able to get pregnant with repeated cycles. It is imperative to keep in mind that a number of factors can influence your chances of getting pregnant after this procedure; such as:
- Age of the female partner (for example the success rate of the procedure drops to 5% in women over the age of 40 years)
- History of any chronic medical illness or surgical issue
- Poor quality of sperms (a high percentage of dysfunctional or dysmorphic sperms in the sample)
- Poor quality of the egg
- Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) with blocked or obstructed fallopian tubes (in which case the procedure may not even work)
Benefits Of Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination procedure is relatively inexpensive and non-invasive. It has a fairly high success rate in couples who have a certain type of infertility. Other reasons to choose artificial insemination are:
- The duration of procedure is extremely short. You can resume your activities after one hour of undertaking the procedure.
- It is pain-free and has no long term complications. Some women may experience mild side-effect like mild bleeding or abdominal cramps.
Do not lose hope if you didn’t succeed in the first attempt. It is recommended to try at least 3 to 6 times before choosing another more invasive/ costly method of reproduction.
1. Thoma, M. E., McLain, A. C., Louis, J. F., King, R. B., Trumble, A. C., Sundaram, R., & Louis, G. M. B. (2013). Prevalence of infertility in the United States as estimated by the current duration approach and a traditional constructed approach. Fertility and sterility, 99(5), 1324-1331.
2. Ombelet, W., Dhont, N., Thijssen, A., Bosmans, E., & Kruger, T. (2014). Semen quality and prediction of IUI success in male subfertility: a systematic review. Reproductive biomedicine online, 28(3), 300-309.
3. Cao, S., Zhao, C., Zhang, J., Wu, X., Zhou, L., Guo, X., … & Ling, X. (2014). A minimum number of motile spermatozoa are required for successful fertilisation through artificial intrauterine insemination with husband’s spermatozoa. Andrologia, 46(5), 529-534.