About Artificial Insemination

Getting pregnant and starting a new life together as a family is often one of the most significant decisions a couple can make. This is a choice with lifelong consequences and demands an enormous amount of time and financial investment. Some couples, unfortunately, face major challenges right at the very beginning with the attempt to become pregnant.

Some women, for example, may have fertility issues that either make successful fertilization difficult or impede the ability to carry a fertilized egg to term, resulting in multiple miscarriages. Other women may have medical concerns, such as a heart condition, that make it medically inadvisable to attempt pregnancy due to health risks for both the mother and child.

Surrogacy is a solution for many hopeful families that would like a newborn child of their own, especially if they would like some kind of genetic connection with the family. This where another woman, a surrogate mother, agrees to become pregnant. When she gives birth, she unites that newborn with a hopeful family. There are a few ways to achieve pregnancy in a surrogate mother. Artificial Insemination is one of them.

Breaking From The Past

Surrogacy itself is one of the oldest alternatives for starting a family and even has a mention in the Bible. Before the 20th century, there was only one way that surrogacy could be performed. The surrogate mother was required to have sexual intercourse with someone, usually the father, in a hopeful couple. In other words, there was no difference at all between surrogate motherhood, and standard conception, only the sexual partner had changed.

It was actually because of farming that other, more efficient forms of fertilization were explored. Farmers had an interest in breeding livestock, but it was often inconvenient, inefficient, or even dangerous to have males mating with females casually. So it was farmers who first saw the need to collect sperm from donor animals, and then use that to impregnate females safely.

This early form of artificial Insemination was first put into widespread use towards the middle of the 19th century. While there were some experiments done with women in the 19th century, it wasn’t until the 20th that the practice became medically approved and widespread.

How It Works

Artificial Insemination, as the name suggests, does away with traditional sexual intercourse. With this procedure, the egg of the surrogate mother is used, so there is no need for surgical removal and lab supervised fertilization. Artificial Insemination uses a medical instrument, similar to a syringe. A sperm sample from a donor is taken and mixed into a solution for better transmission.

The surrogate mother’s own fertility cycle is closely monitored to determine the time when she is most likely to get pregnant. When that time arrives, she is injected as deeply as possible with the sperm sample, and if all goes well, her egg will be fertilized, and she becomes pregnant.

This procedure is now so well-established that home versions of artificial inseminators are available for sale to the public at large. While these are not as effective as a medical-grade instrument being used by a medical expert, they can still get results for people that are reluctant to pay for proper medical care.

Who Benefits?

There are a few situations where a hopeful family may choose artificial Insemination over In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. IVF is used when a hopeful family would like the genetic makeup of the infant to be a traditional combination of both the hopeful mother and father. The only difference when IVF is used is that the baby was born from a surrogate mother. Genetically and biologically, however, that baby is directly connected to the hopeful family, not the surrogate mother.

If no egg is available from the hopeful mother, the egg of the surrogate mother is an appropriate choice. This is often typically the case with same-sex male couples, where neither partner has an egg to donate for use in fertilization.

It’s essential if this decision is made to ensure the health of the surrogate mother in more ways than one. A surrogate mother is typically selected based on her physical health and lifestyle. It’s vital that she be medically certified for a safe pregnancy, and that she has the appropriate healthy lifestyle, such as not drinking or smoking.

Added to this, now is a need to ensure a “clean” genetic background. Congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis or cerebral palsy can be passed down from one generation to the next. Even if a surrogate mother doesn’t have these conditions herself, if it runs in her family, there is the possibility that these diseases may be contracted by any child coming from one of her eggs.

For many hopeful families, however, artificial Insemination is an efficient—and lower-cost—way to bring in a new member of the family. It just requires a bit of time, planning, and investment.