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Artificial Insemination consists of placing a select sample of sperm previously treated in the laboratory to optimize viability inside the woman's uterus to increase the chances of successful fertilization. To increase the possibilities of impregnation, the ovaries are treated with hormones and ovulation is monitored to pinpoint the best moment for insemination.
What does it involve?
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 carried out to ensure that the sperm meets certain requirements, especially concerning its motility. It is also important that there be no suspicion of blockage in the fallopian tubes.
1.- Ovarian stimulation
Insemination that uses a either a male partner's sperm or donor sperm requires ovarian stimulation to ensure proper development of the follicles that contain the oocytes. The optimum time for sperm maturation must also be taken into account. This is done by injecting a medication made up mostly of hormones. The dose levels are low and the medication is easy to administer because it is normally given subcutaneously, much like insulin for diabetic patients. Ovarian follicle growth should be monitored by periodic vaginal ultrasound scans performed up through the time the eggs reach the appropriate size. This medication and monitoring stage usually lasts from 10 to 12 days.
Once the follicles have reached the appropriate number and size, an appointment is scheduled to take place about 36 hours after a human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injection has been given (which triggers oocyte maturation and ovulation).
The woman then schedules an appointment to go in to the center for insemination. The insemination process itself is rather simple, requires no special interventions, and is done in an examination room. A sperm sample must be taken on the same day and delivered to the laboratory before the insemination takes place.
The andrology laboratory prepares the sperm sample to collect the most appropriate sperm for fertilization by mimicking the physiological process that takes place in the woman's tubes (nonviable, weak, or slow-moving sperm is eliminated). The sperm is loaded into a special catheter used for insemination. The catheter is then inserted into the cervix to deposit the gametes as close to the tubes of the cervix as possible. This process is painless and does not require a period of rest.
When is it recommended?
With your partner's sperm
- Mild male-factor infertility.
- Cervical-factor fertility and abnormalities in the cervix.
- Couples with unexplained infertility.
- Couples in which the mother-to-be has ovulatory dysfunction.
- Erectile dysfunction.
With sperm from a donor
- Poor sperm quality or low sperm count.
- Single mothers-to-be or same-sex parents.
How effective is it?
Artificial Insemination has a success rate that sometimes tops 30%, though this rate varies based on the woman's age and the reason the procedure is being performed.