Artificial insemination is when sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s womb in order to aid the woman to become pregnant.
There are two types of insemination, the main difference lies on who provides the sperm. People who are married or in a relationship might use the husband’s or the woman’s partner sperm. The sperm can also be donated by an anonymous donor.
These are the common situations when artificial insemination is a viable option:
• When a woman cannot get pregnant due to sperm issues of her partner, such as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction
• When the woman has issues such as ovulation problems or endometriosis
• When there is no apparent medical reason for a couple’s inability to conceive
Donor sperm is used if:
• Azoospermia (absence of sperm on ejaculation)
• There is a hereditary illness which could be transmitted by the male
• In the case of a single woman
In the case of a low sperm count, IVF is used.
If artificial insemination is chosen as a viable treatment option for a couple then the procedure is as follows.
During what is called a sperm wash, chemicals are removed from the semen which to heighten the chance of fertilisation. Sperm is mixed with fluid and left to set in a centrifuge. This is a process that enables the selection of healthy sperm that will be more likely to result in a pregnancy. Once the woman is ready to ovulate or once the woman is close to ovulating, the sperm is introduced. On some occasions, doctors prescribe or administer hormones in order to increase the success of the treatment.
This is also the case when the male does not have a healthy sperm count or when the sperm cannot successfully swim in order to join the woman’s egg for conception. This opens the door for the insemination of a donor’s sperm.
Some aspects of the artificial insemination procedure to be aware of:
• A woman will be monitored in order to find out when and how often she ovulates. The procedure will employ different tools such as ultrasound machines, kits to determine ovulation patterns and also blood work to determine if the woman is about to ovulate.
• If all the tests are positive and show that there is a big probability of ovulation, the male will be asked for sperm in order to inseminate it. If there is no partner involved, a donor’s sperm will be used.
• Men who are about to donate sperm or who will be asked to submit a sperm sample need to abstain from sex or from ejaculating for a period of around five days before in order to guarantee that their sperm count is high. A high sperm count increases the chances of pregnancy.
The process of insemination by using the sperm of a donor is naturally more complicated and donors have to pass certain tests in order to be selected. Once the samples are accepted they are frozen can then be used in fertilisation treatments for women who are trying to conceive.
The probability of success when it comes to pregnancy by insemination is around fifteen per cent, when using a partner’s sperm and around twenty per cent if using a donor’s sperm. In some of the best clinics, these statistics can rise to twenty per cent and twenty five per cent respectively.
It is a procedure that should be repeated between three to six times, or until successful. Some of the better clinics recommend a maximum of four times, as their statistics show that success is perfectly achievable within this time frame. Some female patients feel the sensation is similar to having a smear test carried out, so it is not painful.
These are average figures and each woman/couple will have their own individual experience. Specialist clinics of a high standard are sensitive to this and will work on a case by case basis in respect of each couple’s experience while undergoing fertility treatments such as artificial insemination.
One clinic that we interviewed for the purpose of this article said that in order to improve the chances of becoming pregnant they also recommend to perform slight stimulation on the woman so she can to produce two three eggs instead of one, but insemination can also be done on natural cycle without any stimulation. Normally they recommend one attempt on natural cycle, and if this is not successful they advise stimulation. In the case of a single woman they would normally start off with her natural cycle, when carrying out the artificial insemination procedure.