As its name implies, artificial insemination (AI) is a process that is used to place sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract using means other than sexual intercourse. The procedure involves concentrating semen into a small volume and placing it into the uterus (intrauterine insemination, or IUI) or the cervix (intracervical insemination).
There are several advantages to artificial insemination for couples with fertility issues, especially for those with a degree of male infertility. In cases where the male’s sperm count is low, or where the sperm is abnormal or has poor motility, getting more viable sperm into the female reproductive tract can help achieve a better pregnancy rate. Artificial insemination can be the solution for those couples.
Artificial insemination also bypasses barriers created by antibodies and inadequate cervical mucus that can damage the sperm or prevent them from entering the woman’s reproductive tract. If the sperm are unable to reach and fertilize an egg, pregnancy cannot occur.
Ovulation induction/superovulation is often used in conjunction with artificial insemination to treat many causes of female infertility including:
In couples with unexplained infertility where all other testing is normal, artificial insemination combined with ovulation induction/superovulation can significantly increase their chances for pregnancy. Fertility specialists generally recommend three to six attempts at artificial insemination before moving on to more progressive treatments.
Summing up, artificial insemination has three primary purposes:
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