Everything you need to know about artificial insemination

Artificial insemination (AI) is the method to treat infertility by inserting the semen directly in the womb. Medical scientists have developed this procedure to breed livestock but now they have adapted this technique for human use too.

Why you need artificial insemination?

  • Anovulatory cycles
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Male factor subfertility

The process

In artificial insemination, the doctor inserts the washed, healthy sperm in the woman’s cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes. The most common method is IUI or what is called intrauterine insemination, where the doctor places the sperm in the uterus.

Why is Artificial Insemination useful?

The process makes the tour shorter for the sperm to get inside without any obstructions. The doctor may suggest this as the first treatment for male or female infertility or for unexplained infertility too. The methods are ideal in situations where conception is tough due to low sperm count, low mobility or sperm allergy.

IUI helps to cut down the sperm’s journey to the woman’s egg, thus increasing the chances of conception. However in case the sperm count or mobility is below a specific threshold, another method of AI called ICSI or IVF is a better way.

How effective is artificial insemination?

Factors like age and fertility problem make the difference in how successful AI is at making you pregnant. Generally, couples using IUI have a 5-20 percent chance to get pregnant every time with the treatment and this increases with the use of fertility drugs. Thus, the IUI success rate goes to 60-80 percent for combined 3-4 cycles.

What is the success rate?

Well, the success rate varies. Some reasons why chances may be low include:

  • Age of the woman
  • A serious case of endometriosis
  • Poor egg or sperm quality
  • Damage of the fallopian tubes
  • Blockage of fallopian tubes

AI and IVF

Artificial insemination differs in IVF or in vitro fertilization because fertilization of the egg takes place inside the uterus after the insertion. In IVF, the egg is fertilized outside the woman and later inserted in the uterus.


Artificial insemination of IUI differs from IVF. With IUI, the sperm is placed in the uterus to be fertilized as opposed to IVF where the fertilization takes place outside the body, in a medical lab, checked for embryo development and then placed inside the womb.

The process of artificial insemination involves dropping a semen sample that is prepared in the laboratory inside the uterus of the woman to increase the chance of the spermatozoa and also to improve the chances of the egg getting fertilized. In this process, the distance between the ovum and the spermatozoa are reduced to a great extent and the process where they come together is also facilitated.

Insemination in IUI

The process of insemination is carried out at a doctor’s clinic or hospital following the ovulation induction. A semen sample is taken when the follicles are ready to get ruptured. After the semen comes back from the laboratory after washing, a speculum is placed, which is just like a smear test, after which the cannula is passed through the cervix, enabling the semen sample to be introduced in the woman’s uterus.

Intra-cervical Insemination

Another method of artificial insemination is the intra-cervical insemination. The procedure is one of the least expensive and easiest of the types as it closely resembles intercourse. In this process, the semen is introduced in the opening of the cervix by the doctor with a needleless syringe.

After the semen sample is inserted into the body, the woman may have to wear a cap for some hours. This is the conception cap that is there to hold the semen inside and to increase the chances of successful implantation.

Risks with artificial insemination

  • Rare chance of hyperstimulation of the ovary
  • Side effects of medications
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Premature birth

Which Type is the Best?

As every person is unique and so is their body, it is tough to say which type of artificial insemination will be the best for them. So depending on the budget, health condition, requirements and preferences, you can discuss the options with your doctor.

A lot of couples opt for IUI as it is less expensive. Also, for those who have fertility issues on the male side, IUI is more effective than natural trying and can even be effective for couples with unexplained infertility.

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