Human artificial insemination achieved widespread popularity as an infertility treatment in the 1970s. Below you will find information on artificial insemination, including the benefits and cost of artificial insemination and an explanation of the different artificial insemination procedures performed.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination, or AI, is a fertilization procedure in which sperm is artificially placed into a woman’s vagina, cervix or uterus. When done by a physician, one of two methods is used - directly into the cervix, called intracervical insemination (ICI), or into the uterus, called intrauterine insemination (IUI). Many women also inseminate at home by placing donor sperm into the vagina (penetration of the cervix should never be attempted without a physician).
During artificial insemination treatment, the woman’s menstrual cycle is closely monitored. There are many fertility indicators that women can track at home, including ovulation test strips, observation of the cervix and cervical fluid, basal temperature monitoring, saliva, etc. Physicians may also use ovarian kits, ultrasounds, and blood tests.
The sperm used for artifical insemination can either be a fresh donation from a direct donor or from a sperm bank. Sometimes women with known donors have their donors donate to a sperm bank, or sperm can be purchased from an unknown donor. When procured from a sperm bank, the semen to be implanted is usually “washed” in a laboratory to remove seminal fluid.
Who uses Artificial Insemination?
Most of the information you will find online about artificial insemination is for treatment of fertility problems. However, there is a diverse community of people who use artificial insemination for other reasons. This includes single women, gay men and lesbians, couples where the male spouse has had a vasectomy, etc.
Artificial Insemination using a Sperm Donor
Sperm donors are most often found through a sperm bank. While many people prefer the safety and anonymity of sperm banks, there are is a growing demand for more "natural" and much less expensive alternatives.
How much does Artificial Insemination cost?
Costs for artificial insemination can vary widely depending on whether or not there are fertility issues and where the sperm comes from. Costs can include:
- The cost of donor sperm (sperm banks charge $150-$550 per vial plus shipping)
- The cost of fertility monitoring equipment (home use)
- The cost of physician office visits
- The cost of investigation and diagnosis (if there is a fertility issue)
- The cost of drug therapy
- The cost of the AI procedure (the intracervical insemination procedure is typically less expensive than the intrauterine artificial insemination procedure)
- The cost of the hospital stay
The medical community is largely focused on fertility concerns, so those who are seeking artificial insemination for other reasons may need to do extra research and have open conversations with their healthcare professional about what treatments are really necessary. The costs of drug therapy and investigative diagnosis, for example, would not necessarily apply, and can dramatically increase the cost.
Benefits of Artificial Insemination
The AI technique creates an avenue to pregnancy for couples faced with male infertility or female infertility, as well as same sex couples. Further, AI by donor allows sperm to be tested and screened prior to insemination, reducing the likelihood of passing a genetic disorder on to the child.