Artificial insemination is something that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Insemination simply refers to sperm entering the vagina, so artificial insemination means that the sperm is introduced into the vagina through artificial means. Believe it or not, artificial insemination is not only practiced in humans: it is a common practice in cattle breeding. Bull semen is collected in an “artificial vagina,” and is introduced into the cow’s vagina in order to produce calves. This is much easier for cattle breeders to selectively breed for certain traits, as well as to avoid intermixing the bull with the cows (as bulls are known to be incredibly volatile creatures, and can get extremely violent around females).
How is it done? Semen is collected from the male, and then a fertility technician examines the sperm. He chooses the best, most healthy sperm and cleans them, then inserts them into the vagina using a needleless syringe, or potentially a syringe with a tube attached to it, in order to insert the sperm farther into the vagina. The sperm need to be cleaned because without the act of sexual intercourse and the accompanying semen, the woman`s body would likely have an allergic reaction to the sperm and would reject them.
Artificial insemination can be a huge help to couples who are having a hard time conceiving. There are a few causes of infertility for which artificial insemination can be quite helpful. The first cause is if there are issues with the male partner’s sperm count or sperm motility. Obviously, inserting the sperm far into the vagina would help combat that as a cause for infertility. It can also be helpful if the man has issues with ejaculation, such as retrograde ejaculation (where the semen is ejaculated into the man’s urinary bladder rather than through his penis). The next cause is an issue with the woman`s cervix being inhospitable to semen during sex, or preventing the semen from getting through into the uterus. The best option for a couple trying to conceive using artificial insemination is if there is no male partner. The women (or single woman) would choose sperm from a sperm bank or from a sperm donor, and would use that sperm to inseminate her. The last option for success in artificial insemination is if the cause for infertility is unidentified. Artificial insemination is far less invasive and less costly than in-vitro fertilization.
Artificial insemination can be a successful solution for many couples who struggle with infertility—it is said to increase the success for a couple (with one of the above reasons for infertility) in conceiving by double. It can be emotionally challenging for the partners to go through something like this, and those emotional implications needs to be seriously considered before the couple goes through this procedure. The huge advantage is that it does not involve hormone shots for either partner, and the procedures are outpatient procedures. The next option for an infertile couple is in-vitro insemination, which can be extremely difficult and challenging for a couple, so artificial insemination can be a great help!