Intracervical insemination (ICI) is probably the oldest and most common artificial insemination procedure, dating back as far as the 1880s. Very much like intrauterine insemination (IUI), it involves placing sperm directly into a woman’s reproductive tract to increase the chances of pregnancy. The big difference is that the ICI procedure places the sperm sample near the cervix, rather than the uterus as in IUI. From the cervix, the sperm moves up through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. This procedure is most often performed by a reproductive specialist at a fertility clinic.
How Does ICI Work?
The timing of the ICI procedure is very important. To increase the chances of conception, it should be performed very close to the time of ovulation. The woman is often placed on fertility drugs to help her produce multiple eggs, and then her fertility cycle is closely monitored to choose the best time to perform the ICI procedure. If a semen sample from a partner or a chosen sperm donor is to be used, the semen sample is provided on the morning of the procedure, either at home or at the clinic. For this procedure, sperm washing may be performed in order to weed out the less viable sperm. If that step has been determined to be necessary, it is done at the clinic just before the ICI procedure.
The ICI procedure is fairly quick and it only takes about ten minutes to perform. The reproductive specialist inserts a thin and flexible catheter through the woman’s vagina until it reaches the cervix. A syringe filled with the sperm sample is attached to the end of the catheter and it is used to deposit the sperm around the cervix. A sponge cap may be placed over the cervix to prevent the sperm from leaking out. This sponge cap can be removed after six to eight hours. This procedure is usually painless, however a small number of women may experience some discomfort during the ICI procedure.
Candidates for the ICI procedure include couples that are facing specific male fertility issues such as low sperm count or motility. Couples who choose to undergo ICI are typically fertile and have no underlying problems with their reproductive organs. Couples often choose ICI when the male partner is having difficulty ejaculating during sexual intercourse, as the procedure allows the sperm to be placed directly inside the woman. Couples may also choose to undergo ICI if they are:
- Using donor sperm
- Using a surrogate
- Experiencing cervical mucus problems
ICI Success Rates
Success rates for ICI depend on the specific reason for infertility and the quality of the sperm sample used. Success rates range from 5 percent to 30 percent per cycle. The insemination procedure is usually performed two times during each cycle in order to increase the chances of pregnancy. Sperm washing may increase the chances of pregnancy with ICI.
Cost of Intracervical Insemination (ICI)
Typically, ICI costs much less than IUI, which is why it is one of the most common artificial insemination techniques performed. The price increases when sperm washing or donor sperm is involved and several cycles may be necessary to conceive.
If you are looking to take control of your fertility, make an appointment with one of our compassionate and highly trained fertility specialists. Our fertility doctors can determine the cause of your fertility problems and recommend the best treatments to help you achieve pregnancy. The Center of Reproductive Medicine serves the greater Houston area with full-service fertility clinics in Webster and Beaumont.
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