Sometimes, couples need a little medical support when it comes to expanding their families. Fortunately, advances in technology have given us many ways to address issues of infertility. One of the most popular methods is artificial insemination. At West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center in Sherman Oaks, CA, we offer artificial insemination and a variety of other treatments that can help you conceive.
What Is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial Insemination is a fertility treatment that involves a doctor placing specially treated sperm directly into your uterus, thereby increasing your chances of becoming pregnant. It is also sometimes called Intrauterine insemination (IUI). The treatment of the sperm is referred to as “washing”.
What Happens Before Artificial Insemination?
Before the actual insemination, your fertility doctor might give you fertility drugs to stimulate ovarian follicle growth and cause you to ovulate. He or she will monitor you to determine when your eggs are mature and when you are ovulating.
At that time, a sperm sample will be collected from your partner or donor. The sample will be “washed” to separate the sperm from the semen. During the washing, your doctor will ensure that a high concentration of sperm is extracted.
What Happens During the Insemination?
During the actual insemination, your fertility doctor will isolate a group of the most robust sperm. He or she will insert it directly into your uterus using a thin catheter. This process only takes about 10 minutes and does not require anesthesia.
What Happens After the Insemination?
Pregnancy occurs when one of the sperm fertilizes the egg. After the insemination, you should begin watching for signs of pregnancy. These vary from woman to woman, but they can include:
- Implantation bleeding
- Missed period
- Breast tenderness
Women can usually take a pregnancy test about two weeks after the treatment.
Who Can Benefit From Artificial Insemination?
IUI is an effective fertility treatment for women who want to increase their chances of becoming pregnant. It can be helpful to couples where one or both partners have fertility problems or difficulty having regular intercourse. It can also offer lesbian couples a way to have children.
IUI is effective in overcoming male infertility issues like low sperm count and low sperm motility. In women, some of the most common issues that IUI can alleviate include hostile cervical mucus.
Various medical conditions apart from those that only affect fertility can give cause you to consider IUI. For example, couples may choose to use donor sperm for IUI when the male partner has a genetic defect. For women, a history of endometriosis can also merit consideration of IUI.
How Accurate Is Artificial Insemination?
IUI is performed in cycles at times when you are ovulating. Each cycle offers a chance to become pregnant. Depending on factors such as your age, your fertility condition, and whether or not you are taking fertility drugs, the success rate can range from 5% to 20% per cycle.
Most couples require multiple cycles. A recent study published by the Human Reproduction journal found that the success rate of IUI is 40.5% in couples who had six cycles.
Why You Should Consider Artificial Insemination
It Can Facilitate Fertilization of the Egg
When sperm is placed directly inside your uterus, it doesn’t have to travel very far to reach your egg. This increases its chances of fertilizing the egg. Normally, in order to fertilize an egg, sperm must travel up the vagina, through the cervix, into the uterus and along a fallopian tube.
By shortening the distance of this journey, IUI can be helpful in situations where the male partner has sperm that cannot swim far enough to cause pregnancy via normal intercourse.
No Cervical Mucus
By placing sperm directly inside the uterus, it can bypass the cervical mucus. Some women have infertility issues because their cervical mucus creates an uninhabitable environment for sperm, thereby preventing them from reaching the uterus. In those cases, IUI is a good solution. It has a higher rate of success than Intra-cervical insemination (ICI), in which sperm is inserted into the cervix.
During the IUI treatment, your fertility doctor will use a special instrument called a speculum to give greater access to the uterus. He or she will use another, smaller instrument to slide the sperm into the uterus. Using these instruments can eliminate the issues related to both the sperm’s ability to travel and the woman’s cervical mucus.
It Optimizes Sperm Before Insemination
Your fertility doctor will treat the sperm sample before inserting it into your uterus. This ensures that you receive a high concentration of the healthiest sperm. The treatment of the sperm also includes activation to stimulate it before it is inserted.
It Does Not Require Intercourse
For lesbian couples who would like to conceive with the help of a donor, IUI can be an important step in the process of becoming pregnant. It can also help heterosexual couples who face challenges when it comes to intercourse.
For example, men who smoke often experience erectile dysfunction and, as a result, are not able to produce a child through normal intercourse. Women who would like to have a child as a single parent can also use this method and donor sperm.
It Involves Carefully Monitoring Your Ovulation
When you receive IUI, your doctor will closely track your ovulation cycle. He or she will help you identify the times when you have the greatest chance of becoming pregnant. At those times, he or she will administer the IUI treatment. This can help you take the guesswork out of timing your attempts to conceive.
It Can Be Used Alongside Fertility Drugs
Part of your treatment can include fertility drugs to induce ovulation and help ensure that you are producing healthy eggs. Some of the most common fertility drugs include clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins.
Taking clomiphene citrate helps your body produce FSH and LH, two hormones that support ovulation. Taking gonadotropins stimulates the release of multiple eggs.
Other fertility drugs are available to treat the various causes of infertility. For example, metformin can help women with polycystic ovary syndrome. It improves insulin resistance, which can be problematic in women with PCOS and inhibited ovulation.
It Is Less Expensive Than Other Treatments
IUI is less costly than you might think, and it is sometimes covered by insurance. In some states, laws require insurance companies to cover some or all of your fertility treatment, depending on whether or not you meet certain criteria.
However, depending on where you live and your coverage, your insurance might not pay for IUI. Regardless of insurance, IUI is one of the more affordable options when it comes to fertility treatments.
It Is Less Invasive Than Other Treatments
IUI is a straightforward treatment that does not require down-time. After your treatment, which is completed in-office, you will be able to return to work and normal activities immediately. Forms of ART (Advanced Reproductive Technologies) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) tend to be more invasive.
It Does Not Carry a Heightened Risk of Birth Defects
When you choose IUI, you do not have to worry about an increased chance of birth defects. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the worries about a connection between birth defects and IUI are unfounded. The same holds true for taking fertility medications that are sometimes used in combination with IUI.
When Should You Seek Fertility Treatments Like IUI?
Normal Conception Rates
In young couples who are trying to have a baby on their own, the rate of conception is 20% per month. Statistically, 50% of couples who are trying successfully conceive a child after 3 months, 72% conceive after 6 months, and 85% conceive after one year. The conception rate is higher among women who monitor their ovulation carefully.
After one year of trying to conceive, the chances of you having a baby without fertility treatments drop to 1% per month for 1 year. After two years of trying, there is only a 1% chance that you will be able to conceive on your own during your lifetime.
For women who are under 35, there is a great chance that you will be able to conceive without fertility treatments. In this case, it is best to try on your own for one year before seeing a specialist.
Women between ages 35 to 40 are advised to work with a fertility doctor after 6 months of trying. For women over age 40, it is best to have a consultation before you start trying to become pregnant.
Schedule a Consultation
We are happy to meet you in person to talk about your situation and give you more information about your fertility options. We would love to learn more about your family goals and to advise you as to how you can best realize your dreams of having children.
Fortunately, medical advances have made it possible for many women to overcome their struggle with infertility and create loving families.
Should You Consider Artificial Insemination?
For many women who want children, the answer is yes. If you are under age 35 and have been trying to conceive for less than one year, you can consider trying IUI in the future. If you do not become pregnant after 12 months, you should come in for a consultation.
You should consider IUI now if:
- You have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility
- Your cervical mucus is making it difficult for you to become pregnant
- You have a history of endometriosis
- You have been trying to conceive via unprotected intercourse for over 12 months and you are under age 35
- You have been trying to conceive via unprotected intercourse for over 6 months and you are between ages 35 and 40
- You are over 40 and are about to start trying or are currently trying to conceive
- Your partner has male infertility, especially due to a low sperm count or low sperm motility
- You prefer to become pregnant via a donor
Some reasons to consider IUI include:
- It makes your egg more accessible to sperm
- You can achieve pregnancy without intercourse
- The cost of the treatment is relatively low
- The treatment is safe
Get Started Starting Your Family
IUI is a treatment that can have life-changing benefits. It makes parenthood possible for individuals and couples who otherwise would not have the opportunity to raise their own children. If you are considering IUI, contact West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center in Sherman Oaks, CA. We will be happy to give you more information about IUI and hopefully, help you along the road to parenthood.