Artificial Insemination Q&A
Why is artificial insemination used?
There are a wide range of needs that may be assisted through artificial insemination procedures. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the most common type of artificial insemination and has the highest success rate. Some of the common situations that may be assisted with artificial insemination include:
- Cervical factor infertility: Cervical mucus is either insufficient to let sperm pass or contains a substance that harms sperm
- Endometriosis: When uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, an embryo may implant in places that aren’t viable for successful birth
- Erectile dysfunction: When the inability to achieve erection prevents conventional intercourse and fertilization
- Insufficient sperm: The man may not produce enough sperm to achieve conception
- Lifestyle situations: Such as single women or those in same-sex relationships who wish to conceive
- Male sterility: Some medical treatments, such as radiotherapy, may result in infertility in the man, so sperm may be harvested and frozen prior to such procedures
- Sperm motility: So-called “lazy swimmers” may be unable to effectively move toward the egg
- Unknown: Sometimes pregnancy doesn’t occur but there’s no observable reason why
How is artificial insemination done?
If a male partner has viable sperm, his sperm is used for the process. In the case of sterility or no male partner, donated sperm is used. Sperm collected for the insemination procedure is processed to remove any components that could potentially interfere with the insemination procedure. The prepared sperm is implanted in the woman in the target location, based on the type of artificial insemination process chosen.
Does artificial insemination carry risks?
While generally a low-risk procedure, there are a few potential complications. For example, there’s a greater chance for multiple pregnancies when artificial insemination is used in combination with fertility medications. Multiple pregnancies carry its own set of potential risks. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is another risk when patients combine fertility medications and artificial insemination treatments, though it’s a rare complication. Fertility medications are typically used only when endometriosis seems to interfere with conception.
If pregnancy isn’t achieved within 6 cycles of artificial insemination, additional treatments aren’t likely to produce results, and other fertilization methods are recommended.