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Artificial insemination

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Artificial insemination is a form of assisted reproductive technology, in which sperm is placed in a female’s reproductive tract in order to impregnate her. Artificial insemination, or AI, is used when a couple are not able to conceive the natural way, namely by sexual intercourse.

The two particular forms of AI include when sperm is placed in a female’s cervix, which is called intracervical insemination (ICI), and intrauterine insemination (IUI) which is when the sperm is planted in a female’s uterus.

The sperm used for the procedures are either freshly ejaculated from a male, or physicians may use a frozen sample to implant. Couples who are not able to conceive naturally are not the only ones, however who choose to use this procedure: females who wish to have a child without a partner or lesbian couples frequently undergo the treatment with the help of an (usually) anonymous sperm donor.

The success rates of AI depend greatly on many factors, including the age of both the male whose sperm is being used and the female who is being treated, the total sperm count present in a man’s ejaculation, and general health.

In order to increase chances of becoming pregnant, most women will be prescribed a fertility drug before AI is performed. This fertility drug stimulates the ovaries to produce more mature eggs to be released during their menstrual cycle, while a woman naturally will only produce one per menstrual cycle. The doctor will time a woman’s ovulation process, at which the sperm, after it has been washed to concentrate the best into a small amount of fluid, will be inserted either into a woman’s cervix or uterus.

The general success rate for AI is at five to 20 percent per ovulation, and it may take several months before it is successful.

Celebrities who have used AI include American Idol Clay Aiken, singer Melissa Etheridge and her partner, and Nadya Suleman, otherwise known as Octomom.

Rumors that Macaulay Culkin, the child star from ‘Home Alone’, fathered Michael Jackson’s third child Prince Michael II (otherise known as Blanket) have not been confirmed. Actress Halle Berry is also said to have used AI to get pregnant the second time.  Clay Aiken‘s child was also conceived through artificial insemination.

Image provided by Gilberto Santa Rosa, http://flickr.com/photos/93087247@N00/61290146.

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