Artificial Insemination (AI) is the procedure used to place active sperm close to an egg to assist fertilization. It is a non-invasive and non-expensive procedure with a good success rate. AI can either be done with your partner’s sperm or with donor sperm.
Who is it suitable for?
- It is an option for women where ovulation induction has not been successful
- Your partner may have mild problems with his sperm, ie a low sperm count
- Unexplained infertility and endometriosis
How does it work?
The procedure takes place in your doctor’s examination rooms. The best time for Artificial Insemination to take place will be determined by doing an ultrasound, to establish when you are expected to ovulate. You may have been given medication to allow the eggs to grow.
The follicles, containing the eggs, will be seen on the ultrasound scan. Blood tests will also be used to establish whether you are in fact ovulating.
Your partner will be asked to bring in a sperm sample on the day you ovulate and the procedure will be done that same day to give you the best chance of falling pregnant.
The sperm is injected directly into your uterus by means of a thin plastic tube through the cervix. Some say it feels like your annual PAP smear.
You will have a good idea of whether the AI was successful about two weeks after the procedure.
Artificial Insemination with a Donor sperm
If your partner has a serious problem with his sperm count or producing no sperm at all, donor insemination may be the only way that you as a couple can have your own child. This may also be an option for you, if you are a single or a same sex couple.
It is very important that you use a recognized sperm donor bank and undergo counselling as a couple before you decide to go this route.
Sperm donation in South Africa is anonymous and therefore legally protects the identity of the donor. In other countries, it is possible to get an identity-release sperm donation, which allows the child to make contact with his or her father when they are older, but this is not the case in South Africa. You are however allowed to choose the sperm donor based on its age, physical appearance (eye color, hair color, height, weight, hair type and complexion), education/career, medical and family history, blood type, hobbies and personality/personal interests.
The South African sperm banks are up to international standards. As a result, using South African donor sperm is much less expensive than importing sperm from overseas.
Potential donors are asked to complete a detailed donor profile questionnaire to rule out any genetic disease or illness. A series of blood tests are done, including HIV, RPR (Syphilis), CMV, Hepatitis B and C, as well as a full semen analysis. The sperm is frozen for 3 months and the HIV test repeated. If the 3 month HIV test is negative (window period of HIV infection), the sperm can then be used.
The Cape Fertility Clinic in Cape Town has said that their sperm bank samples are at a premium. Sperm quality is determined by sperm count, mobility, shape and semen volume. Fertility Travel will put you in touch with the relevant person at the Clinic to discuss your options.
Counselling is essential due to ethical, legal and social issues. You and your partner’s written consent is needed, including your partner’s consent to become the legal father of any child born as a result of the procedure.
Anonymous donors must remain so by law, and therefore have no rights over children conceived and born using their donor sperm.
Your decision to choose donor insemination remains private, you do not have to tell anybody and therefore nobody needs to know.