Couples who are having trouble conceiving often turn to artificial insemination for several reasons. The most common reason is that the man’s sperm is deficient in some way: either he has a low sperm count, problems with sperm motility, or no live sperm at all (in which case donor sperm will be necessary). Artificial insemination might also be sought if the woman has endometriosis or cervical mucus issues that will interfere with normal conception. Many couples have been able to have a child using this procedure, although artificial insemination success rates will vary from couple to couple.
Artificial insemination consists of depositing the man’s sperm mechanically in the woman’s vagina, cervix, or uterus. The sperm will be collected at the fertility clinic, or donor sperm might be used if the man is not able to produce live sperm at all. The technique used will vary slightly according to which procedure is chosen, and the artificial insemination success rate will vary somewhat, too. The most basic form of artificial insemination consists of depositing the sperm into the woman’s vagina with a blunt syringe. This is called intravaginal insemination (IVI).
The next step up would be to deposit the sperm at the cervix, intracervical insemination (ICI), placing it closer to the uterus. It might be argued that the artificial insemination success rate would be somewhat higher than that achieved by IVI. To still make pregnancy more likely, many couples will use intrauterine insemination (IUI). With this form of this procedure, the sperm is deposited into the uterus itself, making the artificial insemination success rate still higher. When using intrauterine insemination, the sperm must be ‘washed’ before being used, otherwise the prostaglandins present can cause cramps which can lead to the sperm being expelled.
With all forms of artificial insemination, it is best if the couple refrain from sex for several days before the procedure, as this will ensure a better sample. The artificial insemination success rate will also be higher if it is performed at the proper time in the woman’s cycle, typically 12 hours prior to ovulation, assuring that there is more chance of the sperm and egg meeting.
In any given month, artificial insemination success rates are about 10% to 20%, partly dependent on the age of the woman. Over a period of time, the success rate will rise to nearly 70%, giving even older woman a chance to conceive. Artificial insemination is not generally a ‘one shot’ procedure, and couples embarking on it should keep in mind that it may take several months for conception to occur.
As with most procedures of this kind, some insurance companies will cover the cost and others will not. Any couple interested in artificial insemination should check beforehand with their insurance provider to see if it is covered. Infertility insurance is also available and can provide coverage of at least some of the costs involved. Artificial insemination is not nearly as expensive as in vitro fertilization, and usually costs between $300 and $500 per insemination. While this is hardly cheap, it makes the procedure more affordable and available to those whose insurance companies do not cover it.
There are various factors that will contribute to the artificial insemination success rate with any couple, and these should be discussed with the clinic providing the treatment. Clinics that perform artificial insemination can be located through the telephone directory, internet, or by speaking with your physician.