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Alternative fertilization is a medical technique which sees sperm placed inside a woman’s fallopian tubes, cervix, or uterus. This procedure helps a woman fall pregnant who cannot fall pregnant naturally. Alternative fertilization is allowing couples around the world who are infertile or who have difficulty falling pregnant to have children.
Alternative fertilization is sometimes used interchangeably with the term artificial insemination. However, alternative fertilization is the preferred term today.
Alternative fertilization is a relatively simple procedure with few side effects. For this reason, it’s usually the first technique suggested to couples struggling to conceive, rather than in vitro fertilization. It’s often helpful for women with endometriosis, unreceptive cervical mucus, or unexplained fertility issues.
Alternative fertilization occurs when a woman is ovulating. Blood tests, ovulation kits, and ultrasounds can confirm this. The sperm used in an alternative fertilization procedure may come from her partner or, if his sperm is not viable, a donor. Men are encouraged to abstain from ejaculating for between two to five days before giving a sample for alternative fertilization to have the best sperm count. The sperm is washed before insertion to remove chemicals and increase the chance of a successful fertilization.
Sperm is usually inserted into the uterus, so it does not have to travel far, but the fallopian tubes or cervix may also be used on some occasions. Once the sperm is inserted in the uterus, or travels there, the sperm can fertilize the woman’s egg.
Alternative fertilization is quick and fairly painless, akin to a Pap smear. A woman may experience light cramping or bleeding after the procedure, but these symptoms should soon subside.
Success rates for alternative fertilization vary depending on age, the quality of the egg and sperm, and other issues within the body. Fertility drugs like Clomid, which help the body produce multiple eggs, may improve success rates.