Is Artificial Insemination Safe For Couples?

IN Vitro Fertility and Pregnancy

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reported that artificial insemination success rates per individual cycle vary between 15.8% for women under 35, 11% for women aged 35 to 39, and 4.7% for women aged 40 to 42. According to a study report published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4 million births per year in the United States as 1-2% of all the U.S. births annually are made through In-Vitro Fertilization or IVF. 

In this article, we will discuss the general information about artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

What is Artificial Insemination or Intrauterine Insemination IUI?

One of the least invasive and most common forms of assisted reproduction is intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination. The Manual of Intrauterine Insemination and Ovulation Induction stated that the term “artificial insemination” covers a range of techniques for insemination: It may be intravaginal, intracervical, intrafallopian, intraperitoneal, or intrauterine. Artificial insemination has been used for many years for numerous different indications, and either the husband/partner’s sperm (AIH) or donor sperm (AID) may be utilized. 

Before couples proceed to artificial insemination, they need to undergo a complete assessment which includes a comprehensive medical history, clinical examination, and proper investigations for any potential causes of a couple’s infertility like ovulatory damage, tubal damage, or a malefactor. Couples who want to conceive should receive sufficient counseling before starting treatment, specifically when donor sperm is to be used.

What are some indications for artificial insemination?

There are various indications for artificial insemination using your husband or partner’s semen such as male subfertility, cervical factor, ejaculatory failure, idiopathic or unexplained infertility, immunological infertility, and endometriosis. One of the major indications is an ejaculatory failure when the male partner is unable to ejaculate into the vagina. On the other hand, cervical mucus hostility is a logical indication for artificial insemination as it bypasses the mucus in the cervical canal.

How Does IUI Work?

IUI consists of depositing a semen sample inside a woman’s uterus, either following spontaneous ovulation or after ovulation induction or ovulation stimulation treatment. In order to increase the chances of fertilization and conception occurring in the cycle, the spermatozoa and the egg cell must be placed in the closest possible proximity. Below is the process of how IUI works:

  • Ovarian Induction – It is often used to guarantee that one or more eggs are available at the proper time for conception. The stimulation phase lasts around 10 days during which ultrasound scans and blood tests examine the condition of follicle growth. After that, a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection that stimulates ovulation is administered 36 hours prior to the start of IUI.
  • Semen Preparation – In the laboratory, the sperm with the best motility is selected and concentrated in a technique referred to as semen capacitation. In this process, it eliminates slow or immobile sperm so that the semen sample to be utilized for artificial insemination is optimized. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of IUI

In this section, we provide some details about some advantages and disadvantages of IUI as published in the Healthcare & Wellness Blogs of OVUM: Women & Child Speciality Hospital. Read the following information carefully!

ADVANTAGES

  • It is less invasive
  • It is less expensive when compared with IVF, and ICSI.
  • Less stress on the body
  • Washing procedures enhance sperm quality- this process will remove prostaglandins, infectious agents, antigenic proteins, non-motile spermatozoa, immature germ cells, etc, as it results in quality sperm. This also decreases the formation of free oxygen radicals after sperm preparation and enhances sperm quality.
  • The chance of IUI treatment is very high when compared to regular sexual intercourse.
  • The procedure is performed with or without transvaginal ultrasound guidance; the doctor inserts the catheter into the vagina and cervix. The doctor then pushes the catheter through the cervical canal and points it towards the top of the uterus and right or left fallopian tube. Finally, the sperm is injected through the catheter into the uterus.
  • The duration of the procedure takes only 15 -20 minutes and later you will be advised to stay in the recovery room for 20 minutes and leave.
  • This procedure does not require anesthesia. It is not painful.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Problems may occur if the below factors are not met such as clear and undamaged fallopian tubes.
  • The partner carrying the pregnancy needs to be ovulating
  • Sperm should have a certain level of motility.
  • The success rate in IUI is around 20% when compared with other treatments like IVF.
  • The risk of conceiving multiples increases due to the intake of fertility drugs. So, internal ultrasound is highly recommended.
  • Some may experience a few side effects that are caused by the fertility drugs taken during the IUI treatment, not due to the procedure itself. The medications are prescribed to increase the chances of IUI success. These medications will stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple oocytes for the insemination.  Always inform your doctor if there is any difficulty faced during an IUI cycle.

CONCLUSION

IUI is a less-invasive procedure that includes ovarian induction and semen preparation in the process, while IVF is a treatment to boost egg production and allow fertilization of the egg and sperm in a lab. Couples who are struggling with their fertility and getting pregnant can turn to artificial insemination or IUI and in-vitro fertilization or IVF to help them become successful in conceiving. 

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