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Understanding Insemination Options: ICI and IVI

Embarking on the journey to parenthood is a thrilling chapter in life. Whether you’re solo-parenting or embarking on this adventure with a partner, the anticipation of a positive pregnancy test fills your thoughts.

However, when month after month doesn’t bring the expected news, it can be disheartening. The truth is, many individuals dive into understanding their reproductive system only when faced with the question of why it’s not cooperating.

Today, we’re shedding light on the “Turkey Baster Method,” also known as Intracervical Insemination (ICI) or Intravaginal Insemination (IVI).

Understanding ICI and IVI

Intracervical Insemination (IVI) involves transferring semen or ejaculate directly into the female reproductive tract, near the cervical opening — the gateway to the uterus. Some may use the term IVI interchangeably with ICI. For this discussion, we’ll refer to it as ICI.

How is Semen Transferred with ICI?

The process can be done at home or at a medical facility. At home, specially designed syringes, like those offered by MakeAmom, can be used. In a medical setting, a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) with a syringe at its end is often employed to deposit sperm near the cervix.

Understanding the ICI Process

Timing is Everything: The effectiveness of Intracervical Insemination (ICI) hinges on understanding your ovulation cycle. Ovulation typically occurs once a month when a mature egg is released from an ovary. Contrary to popular belief, fertilization usually occurs in the Fallopian tubes, connecting the ovaries to the uterus.

Sperm can survive within the female reproductive tract for 48 to 72 hours but only up to an hour outside the body. (Note: Defrosted donor sperm may have a shorter lifespan; inquire with your sperm bank about potency after transfer.) To optimize chances, it’s essential to start the sperm’s journey before ovulation. ICI aids this by delivering sperm close to the cervix, allowing them to travel to the uterus and Fallopian tubes. Lying down for 15 to 30 minutes post-insemination helps gravity assist the sperm on their journey.

The Journey of Fertilization: If fertilized, the egg, now a zygote, undergoes cell division through mitosis. About 3 to 4 days after fertilization, it reaches the uterus, hopefully implanting and developing into an embryo. If fertilization doesn’t occur, your period begins about two weeks later, marking the start of a new cycle and another opportunity.

Who Can Consider Intracervical Insemination?

Intracervical insemination is a viable option for individuals with a healthy uterus, regular ovulation, and at least one functioning Fallopian tube. Consult your doctor to determine if ICI is suitable for you. However, ICI is not advisable if there are diagnoses of azoospermia, blocked or absent Fallopian tubes, certain infections, or if pregnancy is deemed unsafe.

Considering Costs and Success Rates

Financial Considerations: The cost of at-home ICI involves the purchase of an insemination kit and potentially an ovulation predictor kit.

Success Rates: Success rates for ICI, much like traditional intercourse, vary based on age, the use of fertility medications, and underlying medical conditions. A study published in the journal Human Reproduction suggests a success rate of 37.9% after six ICI cycles.

How ICI Differs from IVF or IUI

Intracervical Insemination (ICI), Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are non-intercourse methods for conception.

· ICI vs. IUI and IVF: ICI is a DIY process, performed at home, delivering sperm near the cervical opening. IUI delivers sperm directly to the uterus, usually performed by a doctor. IVF involves hormonal treatments, egg retrieval, fertilization in a lab, and the transfer of embryos into the uterus.

If timed intercourse isn’t yielding results or if ICI hasn’t led to a successful pregnancy within six months, consult your doctor. The MakeAmom community is here to offer support throughout your conception journey. Feel free to reach out; we love connecting with our community!

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