When intended families choose surrogacy to solve their fertility problems, artificial insemination is a very common method. Clinics use it to achieve fertilization. Understanding what it is and how it works will give both intended families and surrogate mothers a good place to begin a conversation with a fertility expert. Here’s what you need to know.
Intrauterine vs. Intracervical
There are two different artificial insemination procedures, intrauterine insemination (IUI) and intracervical insemination (ICI). Intrauterine insemination is the most common form of artificial insemination today. The IUI procedure places the sperm sample directly into the uterus. The sperm sample first is washed to separate the sperm from the seminal fluid and concentrated to a smaller amount. This gives the sperm cells an advantage by giving them a head start. But still requires a sperm cell to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. The ICI procedure places the sperm sample near the cervix. From the cervix, the sperm travels up the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. The sperm is un-washed and placed further away from the fallopian tubes than in the IUI procedure. So the ICI success rate is lower than IUI’s but is typically less expensive.
A successful artificial insemination procedure usually consists of the following five steps:
To begin the artificial insemination procedure, the surrogate and the potential sperm donor will have a complete physical examination to make sure they are both in good health and without any genetic defects.
The egg provider is given ovulation induction medications to stimulate the development of multiple follicles (eggs), and the insemination is timed to coincide with ovulation.
In the IUI procedure, after a sperm sample is obtained, the sperm is washed to separate it from the other components of the semen and is concentrated into a smaller volume, leaving only the highly motile sperm. This procedure helps enhance the fertilizing capacity.
When everything is ready, the actual artificial insemination procedure is straightforward and can be done quickly. With IUI, the sperm is placed into a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that is passed into the vagina, through the cervix, then into the uterus. With ICI, the catheter is placed into the vagina, depositing the sperm around the cervix.
A cervical cap or sponge is placed into the vagina to prevent the sperm from leaking out. This sponge or cap can be removed several hours after the procedure is over. Surrogate mothers may be advised to lie down for 15-20 minutes after the procedure. Some studies found that women who lie down are more likely to get pregnant during that cycle than women who get up immediately after the procedure.
Details of the procedure should be customized for each case by medical professionals. However, sometimes couples still do not have a baby after several cycles of ICI or IUI. If this happens to you, do not panic. There are still a lot of other methods that Joy of Life can use to help you have your new baby.