Infertility and Artificial Insemination (AI)
Artificial Insemination (AI) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or is usually an out-patient procedure in which sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s cervix or uterus. This method is often times used while taking follicle stimulating drugs, such as Clomid or Pergonal, to enhance the chance of a viable egg, or eggs, being released that month. When the sperm is placed into the uterus, it is called an intrauterine insemination, or IUI. The procedure is relatively simple with few side effects and is often performed in a physician’s office or as an outpatient hospital procedure.
Effect of Artificial Insemination (AI) on Infertility
Artificial Insemination (AI) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a treatment to help a woman get pregnant by introducing sperm in a medical office or hospital setting. In order to increase chances of fertilization, the sperm is washed in a laboratory and concentrated in HamsF10 media without L-glutamine and warmed to 37C.1
Research Evidence on Artificial Insemination (AI)
Most physicians will try AI/IUI several months, often with Clomid or Pergonal, before they try another approach such as IVF or GIF. The success rate of AI varies depending on specific conditions, such as age, the quality of the egg and sperm, whether there exist any abnormalities to the reproductive organs, or possible scarring from endometriosis.
How to Use Artificial Insemination (AI)
An AI or IUI procedure is often performed just prior to or right at the time of ovulation, so the use of an ovulation kit is key to scheduling the procedure. Since a sperm can survive from 24-72 hours you can fertilize the egg up to 24 hours after ovulation.
When a woman is close to ovulating, she calls and schedules an appointment with her doctor indicating her ovulation levels. When she is actually ovulating, the partner will be asked to provide a semen sample, which can be done either at the doctors office, or at home, but it must be at the physician’s office within one hour so that it can be examined, washed and prepped for injection. The partner must abstain from ejaculation for a couple of days ahead of time, to try and boost his sperm count. Some women try to limit a man’s time in a hot tub, bike riding or excessive exercise and use of tight briefs to help boost the sperm count, but these cannot be substantiated.
After the semen is collected it will be “washed” in special fluids to remove chemicals and centrifuged to separate out the best sperm. They are then placed into a thin catheter and injected up past the cervix, and into the uterus. A woman will typically elevate her legs for 30-45 minutes to ensure that the sperm stays in.
Side Effects and Warnings
The Artificial Insemination process is similar to a Pap smear and some women report minor cramping and a little bleeding afterward. It’s best to just relax and take deep breaths while the catheter is injected.
Who can Benefit from Artificial Insermination (AI)
Artificial Insemination (AI) or Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is utilized in situations where the male partner has lowered sperm counts, misshaped sperm, or sperm that aren’t strong enough to swim from the uterus up to the fallopian tubes.
Women who have had endometriosis who may have internal scarring or blocked passages may also benefit from having the sperm injected directly into their cervix or even farther up towards the fallopian tubes.
Women with a hostile cervical environment may have cervical mucus that may kill off the sperm trying to pass on its way to the fallopian tubes. Artificial Insemination allows the sperm to bypass the mucus and put it closer to the meeting place in the fallopian tubes.