Assisted insemination (AI) is a technique in which sperm are placed into a woman's cervix or uterus with a soft, thin plastic tube around the time of ovulation.
An insemination cycle might or might not include ovarian stimulation.
The cycle is monitored with blood tests and ultrasounds so that the insemination can be timed precisely.
This technique is generally used in only a few circumstances, for example when:
- there is a physical problem with sexual intercourse;
- scarring of the cervix prevents sperm penetration;
- donor sperm is required.
Assisted insemination is not as effective as IVF in cases where there is low sperm count, or if there is endometriosis. In addition, the fallopian tubes must not be blocked, nor is it recommended when the cause of infertility is unknown.
The success rate of AI is directly related to a woman's age, and offers no better chance than that of a couple without subfertility who are having regular intercourse. Pregnancy rates are 5% to 10% per month, or 35% to 40% over a six-month course of treatment.