The purpose of artificial insemination is to assist a couple become pregnant by helping the sperm enter the woman’s egg. For many couples, male infertility involves problems with sperm count, sperm shape, and sperm movement. Fortunately, becoming pregnant is possible using one of the four types of artificial insemination.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
The most common insemination procedure is intrauterine insemination (IUI). With this technique, the fertility laboratory specialists take a semen sample from the male, and wash the sperm in the lab to separate it from the semen. If donor sperm is used, the process is done exactly the same. Then, the high quality sperm is placed into the uterus using a small catheter.
IUI is usually done with the woman taking fertility drugs to increase the likelihood of success. Ovulation-inducing drugs, such as Clomid, cause the ovaries to produce extra eggs so fertilization is more likely. IUI has the highest success rate of all insemination procedures.
Intravaginal Insemination (IVI)
Also known as self-insemination, intravaginal insemination (IVI) is done in the privacy of the couple’s own home. Using a syringe, the semen sample can be inserted into the vaginal canal up near the cervix. While this is not as effective as intrauterine insemination, one advantage to IVI is low cost.
Intracervical Insemination (ICI)
As with IVI, intracervical insemination (ICI) is a low cost procedure. With ICI, the semen sample is placed into the woman’s cervix. This is a painless and non-invasive procedure, and because it is not that expensive, couples can afford numerous treatment cycles. ICI increases the chances of pregnancy because the sperm can easily make its way through the uterus to the fallopian tube, where an egg awaits fertilization.
Intratubal Insemination (ITI)
Intratubal insemination (ITI) is more expensive than other forms of artificial insemination, but it is quite effective. The two types of ITI are intra-fallopian insemination (IFI) and intraperitoneal insemination (IPI). With ITI, the sperm are washed in the laboratory setting, and then washed sperm is injected into the woman’s fallopian tube. With IPI, the sperm is placed at the entrance of the fallopian tube. Ultrasound technology is used to guide the catheter so the sperm can be placed where it needs to go.
Artificial Insemination Results
With all artificial insemination procedures, timing is the main factor for success. Insemination procedures must be done when the woman is ovulating. This involves timing the woman’s menstrual cycle when she is most fertile (when the egg has been released from the follicle). To time artificial insemination, the woman will have blood and urine tests so the fertility specialist can check hormone levels for ovulation. We recommend that the couple try 3-6 cycles of artificial insemination before moving on to another assisted reproductive technique.
Success rates for artificial insemination vary, and success depends on the age of the woman, the type of fertility problem, and the expertise of the fertility specialist. Most women who use one of the four forms of artificial insemination have a 5-25% chance of achieving pregnancy with each menstrual cycle. The fertility drug process (ovulation induction) greatly increases success rates of artificial insemination. With IUI, success rates by age are:
10% per cycle for women 35-40
5% per cycle for women over 40
Costs of Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination procedures vary in costs, with IVI being less expensive, and ITI being most expensive. Typically, costs for artificial insemination includes: