In recent years, the infertility rates have considerably increased worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that in Europe, the problem increases between 8 and 9% each year and approximately 5% of all newborn were conceived by artificial insemination.
In many cases, the specific cause of infertility can't be determined. However, artificial insemination is always a good option to increase the chances of achieving pregnancy.
WHAT IS AN ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION?
Artificial insemination is an assisted reproduction technique that consists in putting a previously prepared and studied semen sample into the woman's uterus in an artificial way. This procedure has the objective of easing the spermatozoa arrival to the Fallopian tubes to produce the fecundation.
The main objective of this technique is shortening the distance that must be traveled by spermatozoa to reach the ovum, thus facilitating fertilization. So, this type of assisted reproduction technique is considered the most similar to natural fecundation.
WHO IS AN IDEAL CANDIDATE FOR ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION?
Artificial insemination is a technique which is especially recommended for those couples whose spermatozoa have difficulties to reach the uterus or the Fallopian tubes due to both female or male abnormal conditions.
For example, in those couples whose semen has fewer spermatozoa than usual or most of them have a lack of proper motility, this technique is an excellent option to ease the fecundation process.
Likewise, the artificial insemination technique is useful in couples with male impotence problems, men with penis or reproductive system malformations, or even men with retrograde ejaculation, a condition in which the semen passes to the bladder and not to the penis during ejaculation.
Another example of people that can benefit from this technique are those couples in which the woman has menstrual cycle alterations and, therefore, irregular ovulations, women with malformations in the cervix or vagina, among others.
This technique can also be used in those men that have undergone surgical sterilization techniques (medically called vasectomy) and they desire to have a baby after the procedure. This is possible because the semen sample can be obtained by direct puncture of the vas deferens (structure of the male reproductive system that carries the semen to the penis).
However, it is important to know that, in some cases, the amount of semen obtained by direct puncture is not enough to perform an artificial insemination and the patient must undergo other reproductive assisted techniques or use the semen of a donor.
Artificial insemination can also be considered a good option for couples where the man must undergo treatments that may alter the cells that produce the spermatozoa, like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In those cases, the semen sample can be frozen (medically called cryopreservation) and be used to achieve the fecundation in an artificial way.
As notes WebMD, other ideal candidates for this procedure are couples with fertility problems of unknown cause. In fact, experts recommend using artificial insemination as the first option in these couples because it has good rates of success and it is considered as the less invasive technique.
Finally, this technique is recommended for couples where the man has a total absence of spermatozoa in the semen, a woman who desires a baby without having a partner or even in 2 women couple because all of them can use the semen of a donor and reach the fecundation artificially.
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HOW IS THE ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION PERFORMED?
As it was said before, this technique is very similar to the natural fecundation. However, some tests and techniques for previous preparation must be performed in both men and women in order to guarantee the highest rate of success as possible.
In first place, the couple must visit a specialist in fertility to determine the cause of the problem and whether artificial insemination is actually a good option or not. Once the couple and the specialist have decided this is the best way of treatment, both man and women must be properly prepared.
In women, the preparation is more complex than in men. However, it basically consists in using hormonal supplements to stimuli the follicular maturation of the ovum and, in consequence, the stimulation of the ovulation. The ovaries are constantly checked by frequent echograms to determine the best moment to induce the ovulation and obtain the ovum.
At the same time, the man must provide a semen sample for the specialist to analyze it and select the genetically healthier spermatozoa with the proper motility.
Finally, the sperm that was selected is inserted into the uterus with a specialized cannula when the ovulation is induced to decrease the distance that it must travel and ease the ovum fecundation.
HOW MUCH DOES AN ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION COSTS?
Usually, any reproductive assisted procedure is expensive, and the artificial insemination technique is not the exception. However, undergoing the procedure in a good center always increases the opportunity of achieving pregnancy.