When is artificial insemination the right fertility treatment?
Among the many ARTs (assisted reproductive therapies) available today to help fast-growing numbers of infertile couples to achieve a pregnancy, artificial insemination is among the most effective for certain fertility challenges, as well as one of the longest used treatments, that is also lower risk, less invasive and more cost-effective compared to many other treatments.
In this article, we take a look at exactly what artificial insemination entails and when it is recommended, the success rates it achieves, the benefits and risks for couples struggling with infertility, and how to choose the right fertility clinic for the best results.
Since the late 1700s, when the first case of human artificial insemination was recorded, this treatment has helped millions of couples worldwide to build the families they dreamed of. Today, more than 200 years later, artificial insemination is still often one of the first fertility treatments used to assist those who are having difficulty becoming pregnant, due to a number of benefits, including its success rate, its less-invasive, lower risk and low-tech requirements, as well as its affordability.
Often, fertility specialists will attempt three cycles of artificial insemination, and only if these are not successful, recommend more advanced methods of ART (assisted reproductive therapy), such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).
How artificial insemination works
During normal intercourse, only a small amount of sperm makes it all the way to the woman’s uterus and into the fallopian tubes where fertilisation takes place, if the sperm meets an egg ready to be fertilised. There are many obstacles the sperm needs to overcome just to make it this far, and even if it does get there, it still needs to penetrate an egg that must also be ready to be fertilised.
During artificial insemination, large amounts of semen or concentrated warned and washed sperm, either from the woman’s partner or from a sperm donor, is placed directly into the uterus through a thin flexible plastic tube which is passed through the cervix, at a time which is as close to ovulation as possible. This procedure can significantly increase the chances of conception.
At Medfem Fertility Clinic, artificial insemination can either be performed in a natural cycle without fertility medication, or in a stimulated cycle with fertility medication, where necessary. If fertility medication is required, the type and quantities of the medication will vary from patient to patient, and this will affect the cost of the treatment in different ways for each patient.
Artificial insemination can also be performed with sperm from a sperm donor. Medfem Fertility Clinic has a large sperm donor program, and using donor sperm will also influence the cost of the treatment.
The artificial insemination procedure is usually painless and requires only a few minutes. While some women will experience temporary menstrual-like cramping, all normal activities can be resumed after the procedure.
When is artificial insemination recommended?
* When timed intercourse is not resulting in pregnancy.
* If hormonal medications have not worked.
* For mild sperm problems, such as mild sperm abnormalities, anti-sperm antibodies or poor sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move).
* Physical problems with sexual intercourse, such as vaginismus which may prevent some women from having frequent intercourse.
* Ovulation problems, such as irregular or absent ovulation often caused by hormone deficiencies.
* Mucus hostility due to a vaginal infection or the presence of antisperm antibodies in the mucus.
* Mild endometriosis, which is the growth of the uterine lining outside of a woman’s uterus.
* Low sperm count.
* Ejaculation problems, including retrograde ejaculation (when semen is ejaculated backwards into the bladder).
* Female same sex couples or single women, using donor sperm.
What is the success rate of artificial insemination?
The success rates of artificial insemination vary according to the patient, and it is common for more than one cycle of insemination to be done.
Healthy women under the age of 35 can expect a pregnancy success rate of between 9% and 15% per artificial insemination cycle, provided that they have healthy fallopian tubes and eggs, and that the sperm count of the sperm used is within normal limits.
The benefits and risks of artificial insemination
In addition to its success rate and the extensive list of fertility challenges it can treat, artificial insemination also offers further benefits, such as its low-tech, non-invasive process, lower cost and low risk when compared to other types of assisted reproductive therapies.
However as with any medical procedure, there are risks to consider, and when it comes to artificial insemination, the risks most often centre around the medications that may be required. These medications could result in multiple pregnancies or, in rare instances, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
As with all assisted reproductive therapies, the best way of managing any potential risk – and to improve your chances a pregnancy – is to ensure you choose the right fertility clinic to have the artificial insemination procedure.
How to choose the right fertility clinic for the best results
It is very important to make the right choice when deciding at which fertility clinic you will receive artificial insemination or any other assisted reproduction treatment. Choosing the right clinic will give you the best chance of becoming pregnant.
The accreditations held by a fertility clinic are undoubtedly among the most important aspects to verify when selecting a fertility clinic offering artificial insemination treatment. You can visit the website of the Southern African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) to check that the fertility clinic you are considering is SASREG-accredited.
At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we are not only accredited by SASREG, our team of reproductive medicine specialists, with over 100 years of collective experience, are internationally recognised as pioneers and innovators in the field of fertility treatment.
Our specialist team also include experienced embryologists; trained, qualified theatre staff, nurse practitioners and clinical psychologists; as well as specialist pharmacists and friendly administration staff, who will work with you and your fertility specialist to create a customised personal fertility treatment plan for you. In fact, because we have the highest staff-to-patient ratio of any fertility clinic in South Africa, you can expect the best care possible.
Conveniently located close to Sandton MediClinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, our purpose-built medical and surgical facilities include consultation offices, exam rooms, laboratory facilities, a surgical suite and a dedicated fertility pharmacy in one location. We are also equipped with world-class technology, which means you will have access to the full spectrum of available fertility treatments, as well as cutting-edge technology and medical advancements not available at smaller clinics.
Due to all of these factors, you can expect pregnancy rates that are among the highest in the country and compare favourably to those achieved by the best fertility clinics internationally.
Since the 1980’s, Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team has assisted couples struggling with infertility to experience the joy of parenthood, helping to bring more than 18,000 babies into the world.
If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.
We look forward to meeting you!