For many people, one of the most momentous events in life is meeting someone else you know you love and deciding to spend the rest of your life with that person. For fortunate couples, this means a lifetime of love, disagreements, triumphs, and failures, but always together. So it’s natural that some point these same couples decide to take things to the next level and start a family, bringing a new life into the world to raise as their own.
Sadly, not every couple that wants to start a family can go the traditional route of a woman becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child nine months later. Medical circumstances, such as a heart condition, or having a transmittable disease, can complicate pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy isn’t possible due to surgery having removed the uterus, or being a same-sex male couple where there is no uterus, to begin with.
Surrogacy is often the solution in these instances, and one of the methods to ensure a successful pregnancy and surrogate motherhood experience is a medical technique known as artificial insemination. But what is it, and how much does it cost?
A Focused Effort
In typical reproduction, a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, and a penis deposits sperm into the vagina. If a woman is ovulating, and an egg is present, the sperm will travel to the egg, one of the sperm will fertilize it, and nine months of pregnancy begin.
Artificial insemination, as the name implies, is the mechanical substitution of this technique. Instead of normal sexual intercourse, a medical device, usually something that operates along the lines of a pump or syringe, depending on the technique used, is inserted into the vagina.
Sperm from a donor is collected ahead of time. It may be “fresh” sperm that is donated by a man on the spot, or, in some cases, sperm that has been cryogenically preserved in the past, because no new sperm—possibly due to surgical reasons—is available now.
The sperm is inserted into the device of choice when a woman is ovulating, and this allows for deeper, more precise placement within the uterus, dramatically increasing the chances that once the sperm is released, they will find their way to the egg, and fertilize it.
Who Should Use Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination is a recommended method for different medical situations. For men with fertility problems, such as less motile sperm, artificial insemination can be a way to overcome this issue, as the sperm collected are also “washed” chemically and carefully selected, so only the most viable sperm is part of the process. For women that may have fertility issues or some medical complications in their uterus that don’t compromise a pregnancy itself, artificial insemination is also a useful technique if there are difficulties conceiving naturally.
And finally, in surrogate motherhood situations, where the hopeful family has decided the egg of the surrogate mother herself is preferred, artificial insemination, while not required, is the preferred method. In the past, surrogate motherhood required that the hopeful father have sexual intercourse with the surrogate mother to achieve fertilization. Artificial insemination, however, does away with the discomfort, awkwardness and emotional complication of such a situation.
The final cost of artificial insemination depends a lot on the choices that a hopeful family is making. For example, the absolute cheapest route for artificial insemination is to buy the device yourself, or, if you’re technically inclined, read up on plans for constructing it, buy the raw components and assemble it yourself, and then have the hopeful mother use the device on herself. This method costs a few hundred dollars, depending on whether you are buying the device or constructing it. This also presumes a hopeful mother is using the device unassisted by medical professionals, and that the sperm is coming from the hopeful father. The average cost of a home attempt is between $200-$350.
On the other end, the more medically intensive intrauterine insemination technique requires experienced professional medical attention. There will also be more care placed on actively tracking and exploiting ovulation periods to ensure the maximum chance of fertilization.
“Washing” of the sperm with chemicals and careful selection to ensure only strong, motile sperm are also often used with this more intensive technique. Using a donor if no “fresh” sperm is available from a hopeful father, or cryogenic retrieval is required will add to the cost. Depending on the techniques used, the cost of this type of insemination runs between $300-$1000 per cycle. If donors are required, this raises the minimum to between $700-$1000.
Of course, if a surrogate mother arrangement has been struck, then depending on whether this is an altruistic/compassionate surrogacy, or a compensated one, there are additional, significant investments required. Final costs are going to vary wildly depending on the specific circumstances of the hopeful family that is using this technique.