Artifical Insemination: More Than One Way To Get Pregnant

Artificial insemination is a method of impregnating a woman who has not had any success the old-fashioned way due to infertility on her partner’s behalf or because she doesn’t have a partner. There are numerous other reasons why this method of producing a pregnancy is chosen.
Artificial insemination or AI is a procedure that was borrowed from the farm. Livestock has long been artificially inseminated.
Cattle farmers opt for AI because there are numerous benefits including choosing the best bulls to provide sperm. This results in high quality cattle. Additionally, using this method prevents the spread of sexually transmitted disease among cattle. Furthermore, buying an AI straw is far less expensive than buying a bull.
A herdsman may not want all the calves fathered by the same bull and AI provides flexibility and enables the farmer to mix up the parentage of his herd. It would be difficult and expensive for a herdsman to keep enough bulls to fulfill this need.
Bulls can be aggressive and dangerous and many farmers prefer to avoid them all together. They want their sperm, not them.
In essence, artificial insemination is the introduction of semen into the vagina other than by sex. AI is considered the grandfather of all fertility treatments. In the past, and perhaps even now, it wasn’t unheard of for a woman to inseminate herself using donor sperm and a turkey baster.
When a couple is having difficulty achieving a pregnancy and opts for AI, their physician will put the woman on a fertility drug, which stimulates ovulation. This allows eggs to mature and prepare for insemination.  Although a woman normally only releases one egg a month, due to the fertility drug she will release many eggs. This is why women sometimes have multiple births after undergoing AI because more than one fertilized egg is put into her uterus.
When the woman ovulates, which can be determined by an ovulation detection kit, her husband or partner produces a sperm sample. It is washed, which means it goes through a process that makes the hardiest sperm cluster together into minimal amount of fluid. The physician puts the sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter.
Some women get pregnant the first time; however, it typically takes three to six attempts before AI is successful. Some couples opt for AI because the man suffers from premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction (ED) or because there is an issue with the man’s sperm. It is also an option when the couple inexplicably can’t get pregnant.
When a woman has a medical condition call endometriosis this can prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Endometriosis results when cells that are supposed to live in the lining of the womb have grown in other parts of the reproductive system, including in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or vagina. Another reason a woman may opt for AI is because she doesn’t consistently ovulate. AI may be the answer.
Intrauterine insemination or IUI has a high success rate and is commonly the method of choice. Other types of AI include intracervical insemination (ICI), intrauterine tuboperitoneal insemination (IUTPI) and intratubal insemination (ITI.)
Intracervical insemination (ICI) entails placing the sperm into the woman’s reproductive tract or near the cervix whereas in ICI the sperm is put in the uterus. IUTPI is a method where the fallopian tubes and uterus are both filled with insemination fluid. After the uterus and tubes are filled the cervix is clamped shut to prevent the sperm from leaking out and into the vagina.
ITI is yet another assisted reproductive technique (ART.) The sperm is put into the woman’s fallopian tubes. This eliminates the need for the sperm to travel up the cervix to reach an egg and fertilize it, which occurs in the fallopian tubes. It’s already there.

Daylan Jones researches and writes on topics related to donor sperm, artificial insemination, and sperm bank donors for Cryobank.

Dr. Jean Bonhomme

View posts by Dr. Jean Bonhomme
Considered one of the key thought leaders in men’s health, Dr. Bonhomme, MD, MPH, is Founder of the National Black Men's Health Network and an expert on minority health, addictions, AIDS, and the effect that family relationships have on men and their health.
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