Artificial Insemination attempts to increase chances of pregnancy in a way that’s less invasive than IVF, so it is many people’s first step in their fertility journey. For this treatment, hormones are used to stimulate the ovaries and help multiple follicles to mature. Then, a sperm sample is washed and treated in a laboratory before it’s inserted into the uterus. Through bloodwork and ultrasounds, ovulation is monitored to pinpoint the best moment for insemination.
Artificial Insemination can be done with a partner's sperm or using sperm from a donor. For a partner's sperm to be used, a semen analysis must first be done to ensure that the sperm meets certain requirements, especially concerning its motility, or the sperm’s ability to move well. Low motility means that even with the lab treatment, the sperm might not be able to reach the egg. It is also important that there be no suspicion of blockage in the fallopian tubes, since this process still relies on natural ovulation. The success rate for IUI sometimes tops 30%, though this can vary based on the woman's age and their personal medical history.
The first step is stimulating the ovaries. Stimulation allows as many follicles to develop as possible, increasing the chances of fertilization. The dose levels of the stimulant are low and the medication is easy to administer because it is usually given subcutaneously, much like insulin for diabetic patients. Follicle growth will be monitored by periodic vaginal ultrasound scans and hormone levels will be checked via blood tests. This medication and monitoring stage usually lasts from 10 to 12 days while doctors wait to see follicles grow to the perfect size and hormone levels, like LH, surge, indicating the best time for insemination.
Once the follicles have reached the perfect size, a human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injection triggers final maturation and ovulation. This means the oocytes, which will later become eggs, are ready for fertilization.
The timing here is quite precise. 36 hours after that injection, insemination will take place at the clinic. First, a sperm sample is given from a partner or a donor and is examined by the laboratory. Nonviable, weak, or slow-moving sperm are discarded, meaning only the best remain—this is great for increasing the odds of fertilization. The sperm is then loaded into a special thin catheter and inserted into the cervix to deposit the sample as close to the tubes of the cervix as possible. The process itself is simple and painless, requires no special interventions, and is done in an examination room. It also does not require a period of rest after leaving the clinic.