Intra-Cervical Insemination

Intra-cervical insemination is probably what people refer to when they talk about artificial insemination. This form of assisted reproduction is a classic technique used for years to treat couples who are either infertile or of the same sex, and in more recent years to provide single mothers with a means by which to have children.

What is intra-cervical insemination (ICI)?

ICI is the most straightforward technique by which to achieve artificial insemination, and requires a sample of either fresh or frozen semen taken from a male partner or a donor. ICI mimics what happens during sexual intercourse, where penile ejaculation pushes sperm into a woman’s cervix and towards their target egg cells in the fallopian tubes for fertilisation. In IUI an untreated (sometimes referred to as raw) semen sample is taken placed into the cervix, driving sperm towards the (hopefully) awaiting egg cell.

ICI is performed about 12 hours after ovulation (release of an egg from its ovary), which is why preliminary tests are important in ICI as they determine your natural bodily rhythm tests. Home ovulation kits are actually available should you wish to make use of them, and can be invaluable when it comes to administering ICI. These tests monitor your body temperature and observe the characteristic temperature change pattern that identifies ovulation. In a fertility clinic or hospital blood and/or urine tests can establish the levels of LH (luteinizing hormone), which indicates ovulation when a surge in the amount of LH is observed.

ICI can be performed at a fertility clinic by a qualified and expert professional, or if you like it can be performed at home. When practiced at home the technique is actually referred to as intra-vaginal insemination (IVI).

How is sperm introduced during ICI?

Introducing sperm into the cervix in this manner increases the chances of conception, particularly where male infertility is present in the form of premature ejaculation or impotence. The actual process is fairly straightforward, a speculum will be used to allow your doctor (or yourself if at home) access to your cervix, and a fine plastic catheter will be passed through your vagina and into your cervix. A syringe with the sperm to be used is fitted on to the end of the catheter, and is deposited through this apparatus into your cervix.  A soft material is often placed atop the cervix to keep sperm in, and is removed within 8 hours of the treatment. After all of this is done, you will be asked to rest for 30 minutes to allow the sperm cells to begin making their way towards your eggs.

ICI is an extremely popular form of artificial insemination, and is effectively a first port of call when fertility treatment is being sought out.

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