Couples that are struggling to get pregnant often turn to artificial insemination. This is a safe technique that has worked for numerous couples. Physicians often recommend artificial insemination as the first treatment option for couples who are struggling with infertility.
Artificial insemination involves a doctor injecting sperm into the cervix or fallopian tubes. The technique can also involve injecting sperm into the uterus and this variation of the technique is called intrauterine insemination. You can learn more about these procedures at MCRMFertility.com.
Artificial insemination can be used for both female and male infertility. Women who have endometriosis or troubles with cervical mucus often have success with artificial insemination. Men with low sperm count or weak sperm see success with artificial insemination. The technique is also used when doctors are unsure why couples are not getting pregnant.
When it comes time for the actual procedure, sperm is prepared by a lab to make it more viable. It is washed, liquified, and set to room temperature. The most active sperm are separated and put into a centrifuge before being placed into a catheter that is put into the vagina to reach the cervix. Doctors ask that women lay down for about 30 minutes and some women experience slight cramping.
If you are considering this procedure, there are several things to keep in mind.
1. Success rates vary
The success rates for artificial insemination vary greatly. They depend on several factors including the age of the woman and the quality of the egg and sperm. Women who are older have some challenges with artificial insemination working.
Women who have damage to their fallopian tubes or have a blockage to their fallopian tubes might have difficulty getting pregnant. Success rates also vary for women who have had troubles with endometriosis.
Despite occasional issues with success rates, women should not worry too much about a failed attempt. Some women need a few attempts before they conceive. The more attempts, the more likely that conception will occur. Your doctor will be able to tell you when you have tried enough and are ready for another technique.
2. Health insurance coverage varies
Your health insurance might not cover artificial insemination. There are some states that require infertility costs to be paid by insurance companies, but only if special requirements are met. Unfortunately, there are some states that do not require health insurance coverage for infertility treatments.
Some insurance companies will cover the tests that determine whether artificial insemination is necessary. They might also cover artificial insemination when it is paired with ovulation-boosting medication. If your insurance company does not cover the treatments, then you might want to take advantage of financial counselors who can help you work out the costs and payments. Check with your insurance company before you commit to any treatment options because they can be rather expensive.
3. You might need to take fertility drugs
To help women better prepare their bodies for success with artificial insemination, they may have to take fertility drugs. Men might also have to take fertility drugs, too. For women, the drugs will stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. With more eggs available, the sperm has a better chance at fertilization. Some drugs also stimulate follicles, again to increase the success rate of artificial insemination.
4. Multiple births are not likely
One of the biggest myths about artificial insemination is that couples can have multiple births. This myth is far from the truth. Artificial insemination does not produce multiples at a higher rate than is found in spontaneous conception.
When couples have multiples after artificial insemination, it is usually the result of the fertility medication they take to augment ovulation. When women or men take oral or injectable fertility drugs, the chance of twins and triplets increase. The chance of having twins increases by about 15%, while the chance of having triplets increases by less than 5%.
Interestingly, younger women – under age 35 – have more chances of giving birth to multiples. Women who are attempting pregnancy and are over age 42 have a much lower chance of giving birth to multiples after using artificial insemination. Most couples who have success with artificial insemination give birth to single babies.
5. Your physician or insurance company could request tests
In most cases, couples who are trying to conceive using artificial insemination will need to have several tests conducted. These tests will determine the possibility of a successful outcome. Not every test on this list is required. Your physician and/or insurance company might ask you to have several of these tests.
Physicians might ask couples to test for STDs like HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis. Couples might also be asked to have their vaccines updated. Blood types and blood counts might also be requested. Thyroid function might need to be tested and semen might also need to be analyzed. Women might have to take the Ovarian Reserve Test to look at follicles, estradiol, and anti-mullerian hormones. It is also common for endometrial biopsies to be requested and urine luteinizing hormone tests might also be requested by physicians.
6. It can be done at home
Artificial insemination procedures are usually performed by medical professionals. Some women choose to have the procedure done at home. While the success rates are not as high as when the procedure is done by a professional, some women have become pregnant by doing it themselves.
Home insemination can be less stressful and costly than having the procedure done at a medical facility. Supplies can be purchased at drug stores and some sperm banks will work with women to deliver sperm at the key point of women’s cycles.
Most medical professionals will not recommend home insemination or the “turkey baster method” because it does not work well and it is not as sanitary as having the procedure done in a medical facility. The cost to use an at-home kit is around $150 to $200.
7. Costs vary
The cost of artificial insemination varies based on the needs of patients and whether or not health insurance covers any of the procedures. The cost varies based on the state you live in and whether or not you have health insurance. In most cases, you will need to have a consultation with your physician about your treatment options. Your physician will require you to have some tests to determine whether or not artificial insemination is a viable option. The consultation and the tests will have costs attached to them.
Another cost you might have to consider is at-home monitoring. This will be used to determine the perfect time for the procedure. You might also need to have blood tests and ultrasounds to see if your body is ready to accept artificial insemination. Your physician might also ask that you take medications to boost your ovulation and those medications will increase your costs.
Men might also need to have some tests conducted to determine if their sperm is ready to impregnate their partners. Their sperm will need to be processed in a lab prior to being injected. There are also possible costs that will have to pay for using frozen sperm or donated sperm.
When artificial insemination is done in a medical facility, each attempt can cost between $200 and $800. Since many women have several injections over the course of several months, the cost can be significant. If you decide to choose a gender, then you might have significantly more costs, well over $1500 for each injection. However, if the procedure is successful, then it is all worth it.
8. Sex considerations
While preparing for artificial insemination, you will need to consider your sex life. Physicians request that both men and women abstain from sex. Men should not have sex three days prior to the procedure, but there is no reason to abstain for longer than three days. Women might have some discomfort from sex prior to the procedure due to the medication making her ovaries larger.
After the procedure, your physician might actually recommend that you have sex that night. The added sperm could help the chances of fertilization occurring. But, your physician might suggest that you avoid sex if you have pain during it. Your physician will tell you whether or not sex will be helpful after your procedure.
9. You might need Clomid
Clomid is a medication that you might have to take if you want to increase your success rate with artificial insemination. This medication is taken orally and it helps the body regulate estrogen to stimulate ovulation.
This medication isn’t just given for women who are attempting pregnancy through artificial insemination. Women who have irregular periods often take Clomid to help her better predict their cycles. Women who have unexplained infertility also can take Clomid to help them find more success with spontaneous conception.
There are some risk factors associated with Clomid, including hyperstimulation and multiple ovulations. Some women’s ovaries can have multiple follicles, which can cause abdominal swelling. Taking Clomid can slightly increase the chances that women have twins, but there is no increased chance of having triplets or more babies. Your physician will help you better understand how Clomid can help you with your infertility issues.
About The Author:
Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provide in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.