Intratubal Insemination (ITI)
If you and your partner are considering pursuing fertility treatments, you may want to explore the world of artificial insemination. Artificial insemination can help to increase your chances of conceiving, as it helps to place sperm directly inside of your reproductive tract. A little-known artificial insemination technique, called intratubal insemination, places sperm directly inside of your fallopian tubes, where it can then fertilize an egg. Though this procedure is rarely performed, it may be a good option for you to explore if you are considering artificial insemination.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination is a class of fertility treatment used to help couples increase their chances of conceiving. In artificial insemination, sperm is placed into a woman’s reproductive tract through means other than sexual intercourse. If, for some reason, a male partner is having difficulty ejaculating during intercourse, artificial insemination may be helpful in achieving pregnancy. There are actually four types of artificial insemination, including:
- IUI (intrauterine insemination)
- ICI(intracervical insemination)
- IVI (intravaginal insemination)
- ITI (intratubal insemination)
What is Intratubal Insemination ?
ITI is the least commonly-performed type of artificial insemination. This is because it is more invasive than other types of artificial insemination and is associated with much higher costs. ITI actually works by placing your partner’s sperm or donor sperm directly into your fallopian tubes. Here, the sperm has a better chance of fertilizing your eggs and producing a pregnancy.
Who Can Benefit from Intratubal Insemination?
ITI is not for everyone facing fertility difficulties. It is best suited for couples that are experiencing difficulty in conceiving through other types of artificial insemination, such as IUI. Women who have cervical mucus that is impeding conception may also choose this procedure. ITI is sometimes also used in cases of:
- unexplained fertility
- ejaculation dysfunction
- ovulation problems
Timing of Intratubal Insemination
As with the other types of artificial insemination procedures, ITI techniques are performed to coincide with ovulation. You will be given urine or blood tests to measure the amount of luteinizing hormone in your system. When this luteinizing hormone peaks, the procedure will be performed within a day or two.
Types of Intratubal Insemination
There are actually two main types of ITI. Depending upon your fertility issues and preferences, you may choose one method over the other.
Intrafallopian insemination (IFI) is a fairly invasive procedure that must be performed at your fertility clinic. It is typically performed by your reproductive endocrinologist.
- Sperm is collected from your partner or sperm donor. It is prepared using the sperm washing procedure. It is then placed inside a sterile syringe.
- At your fertility clinic, you will be given a local anesthesia.
- A catheter is inserted through your vagina and cervix, inside your uterus, and into one or both of your fallopian tubes.
- The semen is pushed out of the syringe and through the catheter. It is deposited into your fallopian tubes.
Sperm Intrafallopian Transfer (SIFT)
SIFT is a more invasive and time-consuming procedure that must be performed in hospital or at your fertility clinic. It involves using laparoscopic surgery to insert a catheter into your fallopian tubes.
- A sperm sample is collected from your partner and prepared for transfer.
- You will be given a local or general anesthetic before the surgery.
- A small incision is made in your abdomen and a tiny camera is inserted into your pelvic cavity.
- This camera is used to locate the opening to your fallopian tubes. A tiny catheter is then inserted into your fallopian tubes.
- Using a sterile syringe, the sperm sample is pushed through the catheter and deposited inside of your fallopian tubes.
Intratubal Insemination Success Rates
There has been some debate as to how successful ITI actually is. ITI appears to provide similar success rates to that of IUI – typically between 5% and 30% per cycle. However, some fertility specialists argue that the procedures are much more successful. More research needs to be done to confirm actual success rates.
Costs of Intratubal Insemination
ITI procedures are quite expensive, and therefore are not always viable alternatives for every couple. A typical IFI procedure could run upwards of $1,000 and SIFT procedures tend to cost more. Be sure to find out if prices include the cost of sperm washing and sperm donation.