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    Infertility and Artificial Insemination

    (continued)

    What to Expect During the Procedure continued...

    The process of "washing" the sperm in a lab removes chemicals in the semen that may cause discomfort for a woman, and raises the chances of getting pregnant. Technicians liquefy the sperm at room temperature for 30 minutes and add a harmless chemical to separate out the most active sperm. They use a centrifuge to collect the best sperm.

    Those are placed in a thin tube called a catheter and put through your vagina and cervix into the uterus.

    Artificial insemination is short and relatively painless. Many women describe it as similar to a Pap smear. You may have cramping during the procedure and light bleeding afterward. Your doctor will probably have you lie down for about 15 to 45 minutes to give the sperm a chance to get to work. After that, you can get back to your usual activities.

    In some cases, before you have the procedure, your doctor will place you on fertility drugs, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid). This helps your body ovulate multiple eggs.

    Success rates for artificial insemination vary. Some reasons why the chances might be lower that it will work are:

    • Older age of the woman
    • Poor egg or sperm quality
    • Severe case of endometriosis
    • A lot of damage to fallopian tubes, usually from long-term infection
    • Blockage of fallopian tubes -- IUI will usually not work in this case

    Other Issues With Artificial Insemination

    The procedure won't work for everyone. Some couples try it several times before they get pregnant, while others may not have any success at all.

    Your doctor may suggest trying it at least three to six times with injectable hormones before moving on to another treatment. If artificial insemination doesn't help you, there are other approaches you can try, such as in vitro fertilization with your own eggs or with donor eggs.

    Be sure to compare costs before you choose a clinic for artificial insemination. Prices vary greatly from one to another. Make sure the estimate includes the costs of hormones and any other drugs you'll need, as well as the fee for sperm washing. If you're using sperm from a donor, remember that there will be an extra fee for each dose you use. Ask the clinic in advance which costs could be covered by your insurance.

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    Reviewed on January 18, 2015
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