All varieties of artificial insemination begin with a good evaluation of the mother who will carry the pregnancy. From there, the sperm sample is prepared in a culture media and inserted by various means into the vaginal tract. And while home insemination is certainly an option, there are still steps to take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. There are also several ways for the non-carrying partner to participate in the clinic.
Known worldwide for his expertise in complex reproductive matters, Dr. Kolb is one of the largest providers of egg donation and surrogacy in the United States. His practice is also known for helping to develop and implement cutting-edge technologies in the genetic screening of embryos, along with new laboratory technologies and highly efficient, patient-centric treatment. He has received the Los Angeles Magazine Super Doctors award since 2010 and the European Society of Human Reproductive and Embryology award for outstanding scientific research.
So the initiation of treatment really begins with a good evaluation of our patients. We want to make sure that our patients are healthy, that the conditions are optimal in order to start treatment. So we will look at things to make sure that patients are anemic, their thyroid function is okay. We’ll do a whole bunch of screenings, really to make sure that we’re setting things up for the best chance of a healthy pregnancy.
So there’s a variety of ways of performing the insemination. The simple of which is an intravaginal insemination. And this is simply taking a semen sample and placing it inside the vagina. Intrauterine insemination is also known as artificial insemination. In the physician’s office, the physician will prep the sample. Basically, we’re going to wash the sample in culture media and really put it in a small volume of culture media so we’re isolating just the modal sperm cells, so that when we place the sperm in the genital tract, we’re just putting in the components that we want to go inside. Intracervical insemination is just placing a catheter in a sample within the cervix. Intrauterine insemination, we advance the catheter just a little bit further into the uterine cavity and place the semen sample, or the sperm sample, inside the uterus itself.
Home insemination is certainly performed quite frequently. And I’m not necessarily advocating against it. But I think you need to take precautions to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success. That includes performing a semen analysis on your donor, infectious disease screens, and I really think, some form of legal contract needs to be in place, really to protect your rights as an intended parent.
My suggestion is to proceed with intrauterine insemination. Intracervical is not performed very frequently. It may be an acceptable form of insemination if the catheter can’t be comfortably advanced into the uterine cavity. But by placing it directly inside the uterus, we’re getting the sperm up as close to the fallopian tubes and eggs as possible.
So as far as the partners in a lesbian couple being involved in the process—I absolutely encourage them to be involved. On all levels, from emotional support to being there for the examination, helping select the sperm donor in this process. Within the physician’s office, they can participate with helping guide the ultrasound probes, helping to inject the semen directly into the uterus itself. There’s lots of ways and opportunities to participate on, on all levels. And we really encourage it.