Could artificial insemination be the perfect way to expand your family?

For many people who are trying to start a family, artificial insemination represents the most likely path to pregnancy. This is often true for lesbian couples, single women, and for heterosexual couples who have experienced certain fertility problems. This method is particularly effective for those couples who have issues with low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and hostile cervical mucus. Artificial insemination simply means that the sperm is inserted directly into the cervix or the uterus. The procedure may be performed at a fertility clinic under the supervision of a doctor or (in the case of intracervical insemination) privately at home. Artificial insemination can be performed with partner or donor sperm. We take a closer look at the most common methods of artificial insemination and their success rates, below.

artificial insemination of female egg

What are the different types of artificial insemination?

There are two common types of artificial insemination. Both increase the chances of pregnancy by placing the sperm much closer to the egg, meaning it has a shorter distance to travel for conception. These types of artificial insemination are:

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination is almost always performed by a doctor, usually within a fertility clinic. Here, sperm is placed directly into the uterus. One of the benefits of IUI is that the sperm is washed and specially prepared before insemination. This removes some of the proteins that can be a barrier to pregnancy.

Intracervical Insemination (ICI)

Intracervical insemination can be performed in a clinic or privately at home. In this method, sperm is not washed as above. ICI remains popular as it can be carried out without a doctor present and in a more comfortable home environment.

What are the success rates for each method?

Success rates vary depending not only on the method of artificial insemination but also on the age of the mother.

Success rates for intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Women under 35: 10 to 20%
Women between 35 and 40: 10%
Women over 40: 5%

Success rates for intracervical insemination (ICI)

As ICI is often performed at home under variable conditions, the figures for success rates are difficult to calculate. For healthy women, without ongoing fertility problems, the figure is likely to be around 10 to 15% per menstrual cycle.

Success rates for artificial insemination after multiple cycles

A 2015 study found after 6 cycles of treatment that the success rate was 40.5% for IUI and 37.9% for ICI.

Is there anything I can do to increase my chances of getting pregnant using artificial insemination?

There are some steps you can take to improve your chances of conceiving via artificial insemination:

Fertility drugs

For women with ongoing fertility problems, fertility drugs taken prior to artificial insemination can improve the chances of pregnancy. However, they also increase the chances of multiple births. Your doctor will discuss this option and the associated risks with you.

Rest after the procedure

Lying down after the procedure could increase the chances of conception. For at home ICI, it is also recommended that you elevate the hips with a pillow.

Track your fertility window

Artificial insemination won’t work if you aren’t experiencing a fertile time in your cycle. Track your ovulation to ensure that insemination happens at the right moment.

Use Fresh Sperm

Fresh sperm has a better success rate than frozen. So, if you are carrying out the procedure at home, fresh sperm is preferable.

Choose IUI

IUI has a better success rate than ICI, particularly for women with fertility issues. If you are struggling to get pregnant using natural insemination or ICI, it may be useful to talk to a fertility doctor and discuss IUI.

Which artificial insemination method should I choose?

This depends on your age, fertility health, and personal preference. For healthy women with no known fertility issues then ICI at home with partner or donor sperm can be a good option. If your fertility picture is more complex, you are over 35 or have had problems trying to conceive in the past then IUI under the supervision of a fertility clinic may lead to better results.