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Artificial Insemination 101

hand with marker drawing sperm and egg insemination
Most infertility patients will not need the expensive treatment of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Many cases of infertility can be treated with medications, surgery or through artificial insemination.

Artificial insemination is performed so we can be as certain as possible that the man’s sperm is getting where it needs to be when it needs to be there. This occurs naturally in sexual intercourse, but many couples experiencing trouble conceiving have issues that make this natural method less effective. These include situations involving:


  • Unexplained infertility is diagnosed, meaning no specific cause has been identified
  • Male factor infertility is suspected
  • Anatomical factors, such as fallopian tube blockage, that prevent normal transportation of sperm
  • A couple is using donor sperm
  • The female has endometriosis, cervical issues that inhibit sperm movement or an allergy to her partner’s sperm.

In artificial insemination, the male semen is collected (usually via masturbation and after a 2-5 day period of abstaining from sex), the sperm is washed from the semen, and then placed into the woman’s reproductive tract. Timing is important, as the life of the egg is shorter than the life of the sperm. This means that insemination can occur before ovulation but definitely should occur within 24 hours after ovulation. A urine test or follicular ultrasound is usually done to determine when ovulation may occur.

In addition, different methods are used for the insemination. The sperm can be placed on the outside of the cervix, just inside the cervix, injected into the uterus in the intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure, or fallopian tube perfusion (FSP) can be done so that the sperm will go up into the fallopian tube where fertilization normally occurs.

Artificial insemination treatment may feel more approachable for patients because it is much less complicated than treatments such as IVF. However, with the simplicity of the treatment comes a higher risk that the treatment will not result in pregnancy, though this does highly depend on the age and health of the couple. Below you’ll get a closer look at what you might expect from artificial insemination to help determine if this is the right treatment option for you.

Methods and success rates

The area where sperm will be injected (vagina, cervix or uterus) will be determined based on the infertility issues that are present. After resting for a short period of 15-30 minutes following the injection, female patients are able to resume regular activities and take a pregnancy test on a normal timeline. In some cases, the drug Clomid will be used to regulate ovulation and boost the likelihood of success. 

Artificial insemination may be helpful in cases of male and female infertility. By placing sperm directly in the uterus via IUI, the chances of conception are higher for sperm that has low motility (poor mobility). Bypassing traditional insemination might also improve the chances of pregnancy for women with anatomical reproductive abnormalities such as endometriosis or unreceptive cervical mucus.

The success rate of artificial insemination does vary significantly with each patient, as different medications and transplanting techniques may be used in certain situations. The age of the female partner is also very important for the chances of success. Generally, artificial insemination is not as successful as more involved treatments such as IVF. Where artificial insemination success rate are less than 16 percent, IVF success rates can exceed 50 percent.

Arizona Reproductive Medicine Specialists can help you understand all the pros and cons of IUI as you compare it with a number of other modern infertility treatments in our Phoenix office. To connect with our compassionate team of fertility specialists, call (602) 351-5327 or visit our make an appointment online.