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Types of Artificial Insemination

If you and your partner are having a hard time getting pregnant, artificial insemination could give your body the little push it needs to create a happy, healthy new addition to your family. Many couples choose artificial insemination because the procedures are less invasive and less expensive than other fertility treatments. While the most common type of artificial insemination is intrauterine insemination (IUI), there are three other procedures that you and your partner may consider.

Intracervical Insemination

Even less invasive than IUI is a fertility treatment known as intracervical insemination (ICI). This relatively quick and simple procedure places sperm inside your cervix where they then swim into your uterus and up into your fallopian tubes on their own.

First, a sperm sample is retrieved from your partner or a donor you have chosen. Just before you ovulate, a speculum is used to open your vagina and expose your cervix. Using a catheter and a syringe, your doctor will push the sperm through and deposit it in your cervix, a process which only takes about five to ten minutes. Following the deposit, a sponge will be placed over your cervix to prevent any leakage and increase the sperms' chances of making their way to your uterus. You may remove the sponge after about six hours.

ICI is often chosen by couples who cannot afford the more commonly performed IUI (one round of ICI typically costs between $200 and $300 as opposed to between $300 and $700 for IUI). You may be a good candidate for ICI if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving on your own because your partner is unable to ejaculate during intercourse, or if you are a single woman using a sperm donor. ICI is not the best option for couples with fertility issues such as cervical mucus hostility in the woman, or poor sperm quality in the man when a donor is not wanted. Success rates associated with ICI are around 10 percent per cycle, but may increase to as high as 30 percent if two procedures are performed during one cycle and if your sperm sample is healthy and strong.

Intratubal Insemination

Intratubal insemination (ITI) is less commonly used than IUI and ICI because it is more invasive and tends to cost significantly more. The treatment itself is similar to IUI until insemination, when the sperm sample is deposited directly into one or both of your fallopian tubes. ITI is thought to give sperm a significant advantage because they do not have to swim through your cervix or your uterus. Instead, they are placed precisely where they need to be in order to reach and fertilize your egg.

The ITI procedure can be performed in two ways: intracervially and laparoscopically. Using the intracervical method, your doctor will place a plastic catheter inside your cervix and uterus, and up into your fallopian tubes. Your partner's or donor's sperm sample is then deposited in your fallopian tubes through the catheter, just as it is deposited in your uterus during IUI and your cervix during ICI.

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