Sometimes, the husband’s sperm just needs a little nudge to reach the wife’s egg. According to Dr. Joan Tan-Garcia, endocrinologist, infertility and menopause specialist, this method of treating infertility requires choosing the best sperm in the lot, and injecting a concentrated dose of the selection (with a needle-less syringe) into the woman’s uterus (intrauterine or IUI), or high into the cervix (intracervical) at the proper time (of ovulation) to improve the odds of getting pregnant. If the procedure is successful, the woman conceives and carries a baby to term.
Low sperm count and poor sperm motility in men and sperm allergy in women are the most common reasons why couples turn to AI. In extreme cases (sperm count or motility is severely low), specialists suggest intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a fiber-optic-aided procedure that allows sperm to be injected directly into the egg (i.e. the woman’s ovulation is confirmed).An ovulation detection kit or an ultrasound will help figure a woman’s ovulation period. This will let the doctor know when the insemination can be done. The procedure takes about an hour; a pregnancy test can be done about two weeks later. Most women undergo three to six cycles of artificial insemination before getting pregnant. When it fails, they try another treatment.
Dr. Garcia says success depends on the fertility problem and the patient’s age. IUI has a 5% to 20% chance of success. Taking fertility drugs gives the patient closer to 20% chance. It’s all about perfect timing—which is difficult to achieve 90% of the time. Dr. Tan-Garcia notes, however, that there are cases where couples have an unexplained fertility problem.
Cost is between P10,000 and P15,000 per cycle in the Philippines, and between $300 and $700 per cycle in the United States. Add to that the cost of doctor’s fee, ultrasound monitoring, and medication.
SOURCE: Joan Tan-Garcia, M.D. reproductive endocrinologist, infertility and menopause specialist, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Manila Doctor’s Hospital, and Medical City