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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Infertility and Artificial Insemination


What to Expect During Artificial Insemination continued...

The process of "washing" the sperm enhances the chance of fertilization and removes chemicals in the semen that may cause discomfort for the woman. It consists of liquefying the sperm at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then a harmless chemical is added to separate out the most active sperm. Then a centrifuge is used to collect the best sperm.

The sperm are then placed in a thin tube called a catheter and introduced through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. Artificial insemination is a short, relatively painless procedure that many women describe as being similar to a Pap smear. Some women have cramping during the procedure and light bleeding afterward. Immediately after the procedure, 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 resume your usual activities.

In some cases, your doctor will place you on fertility drugs, such as Clomid, to induce superovulation (ovulation of multiple eggs) before you undergo artificial insemination.

Success rates for artificial insemination vary. Factors that lessen your chance of success include:

  • Older age of the woman
  • Poor egg quality
  • Poor sperm quality
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Severe damage to fallopian tubes (usually from chronic infection)
  • Blockage of fallopian tubes (IUI will usually not work in this case)

Other Issues With Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination won't work for everyone. Some couples may try artificial insemination several times before becoming pregnant, while others may never get pregnant using this technique.Your doctor may suggest trying artificial insemination at least three to six times with injectable hormones before moving on to another -- usually more costly and invasive -- treatment. If you're not successful, don't despair -- there are other approaches that you can try, such as in vitro fertilization with your own eggs or with donor eggs.

Also, be sure to compare costs before you choose a clinic for artificial insemination. Prices vary greatly from clinic to clinic, depending on where you live. 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 are using donor sperm, remember that there will be an extra fee for each dose of sperm needed. Ask the clinic in advance which costs could be covered by your insurance.

Reviewed on January 18, 2015
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