Intravaginal Insemination (IVI)
Pregnancy is typically a joyful time for most couples. However, for some couples, getting pregnant can be quite difficult, especially if they are facing issues with fertility. If you are having difficulties conceiving, you may be interested in trying different fertility treatments to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Intravaginal insemination (IVI) is a type of artificial insemination that is sometimes used to help couples conceive. IVI is a non-surgical and minimally invasive procedure that can often be performed in the comfort of your own home, and for very little cost.
What is Artificial Insemination (AI)?
Artificial insemination actually refers to four different procedures used to help facilitate pregnancy. These procedures use methods other than sexual intercourse to deposit sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract. The most common type of artificial insemination is IUI, or intrauterine insemination, in which washed sperm is placed directly into a woman’s uterus. Other types of artificial insemination include:
- intratubal insemination
- intracervical insemination
What is Intravaginal Insemination (IVI)
IVI is a type of artificial insemination that you can use to help increase your chances of pregnancy. Though less common than the other types of artificial insemination, IVI is a valuable treatment procedure and is very popular among some patients. IVI places sperm directly inside your vagina in order to increase the chances of fertilization. It can be performed at your fertility clinic or in the comfort of your own home.
Who Can Benefit From Intravaginal Insemination?
IVI is usually reserved only for couples facing specific fertility issues. IVI is typically used when a male partner is unable to ejaculate during sexual intercourse, but when the female partner is healthy and fertile. The procedure requires that you are able to ovulate regularly, either naturally or through the help of fertility drugs, like Clomid. If you are experiencing difficulties with regular ovulation, IVI is probably not the best treatment for you. IVI is also used with:
- donor insemination
Sperm and Intravaginal Insemination
When undergoing IVI, it is important to use sperm that has good motility and morphology. Your partner’s sperm or sperm from a donor can be used. "Raw," or unwashed, sperm is safe to use in IVI, however, it may reduce your chances of pregnancy as raw samples may contain lower-quality sperm. By using sperm that is prepared through sperm washing, you may be able to increase your chances of pregnancy, as the procedure separates any dead or slow sperm cells.
Timing and Intravaginal Insemination
The key to success with IVI is the timing of the procedure. Whether the IVI is performed at home or by your reproductive endocrinologist, it is imperative that it occur around the time of your ovulation. In order to find out when you are ovulating, urine tests can be performed to check for a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH). This surge indicates the beginning of ovulation. IVI is generally performed within 24 hours of your LH surge.
Intravaginal Insemination Procedures
There are two main methods of IVI:
- The semen or prepared sperm sample is drawn into the sterile needle.
- Any air bubbles inside of the syringe are pushed out, to prevent air from being inserted into your vagina.
- When you are lying down in a comfortable position, the syringe is slowly placed inside of your vagina, until it reaches your cervix.
- The semen sample is deposited near your cervix.
- The cervical cap is filled with your sperm sample.
- After folding the cervical cap in half, insert the cervical cap into your vagina, or have your partner do this.
- The cervical cap should be left in place for two to three hours. Orgasm sometimes helps the sperm to travel up into the uterus once the cervical cap is in place.
The syringe method can be performed at home or at your fertility clinic. It uses a sterile, needleless syringe to deposit the sperm inside your vagina. The procedure is as follows:
Cervical Cap Method
The cervical cap method is typically performed at home and involves using a cervical cap to insert the sperm specimen as close to your cervix as possible. You can get a specially-fitted cervical cap from your health care provider.
The success rates associated with IVI are not that high because sperm must still travel through your cervix, into your uterus, and up into your fallopian tubes. However, IVI typically provides a 10% chance of pregnancy with each cycle. By using washed sperm or ovulation-inducing medication, success rates can reach 30% per treatment cycle.
Costs of Intravaginal Insemination
IVI is one of the less expensive forms of artificial insemination. If performed at home, without the use of fertility drugs or donor sperm, the only costs of the procedure include the price of a syringe or cervical cap, and a sterile container in which to keep the sperm. If you choose to perform IVI with fertility treatments and donor sperm, costs per cycle could rise to $300 to $400.