One of the characteristics of living things is reproduction. Reproduction entails bringing forth another of man’s kind. It is, therefore, a default when a man or woman cannot reproduce to bring forth their kinds. Infertility which can be from either the man or woman is a problem in procreation. Artificial insemination is now a way out for couples who have difficulty in having a child. As much as this sounds great, the errors of fertility clinics where this procedure takes place is a major concern for the patients.
The story on a popular Nigerian tabloid is about a couple who did artificial insemination so as to get a child after their 5 years of marriage. The husband has a medical condition called erectile dysfunction but the doctor told him he could produce healthy sperm cells to father a child. A week after they have the procedure done, it was revealed that the fertility made an error of using another donor’s sperm for his wife. This is a very costly mistake the woman concerned said she cannot stop thinking about.
Nothing strikes fear in the heart of infertility patients like the thought that the wrong embryo or sperm or egg was used during the procedure. Another couple who planned to have this done was terrified. The wife said “I’m looking forward to the transfer but now I’m so scared. I have waited so long for this after finally convincing my partner. The thought that I could end up carrying someone’s else baby is giving me sleepless nights’’. In some cases, there have been mistakes from the fertility clinic through wrong labeling of the specimen, wrong medications and so on. This has made some women carry and bear children that don’t belong to their sperm donors.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination is the deliberate introduction of sperm into a female’s cervix or uterine cavity for the purpose of achieving a pregnancy through in vivo fertilization by means other than sexual intercourse. In a lay man’s definition, artificial insemination is a method of treating infertility by inserting semen directly into a womb.
The first reported case of artificial insemination by donor occurred in 1884 through Dr. William H. Pancoast, a professor in Philadelphia. He took sperm from his best looking student to inseminate an anesthetized woman. The case was said to be reported 25 years later in a medical journal.
Things to know about Artificial Insemination
The sperm used in artificial insemination may be provided either by the woman’s husband or partner (partner sperm) or by a known or anonymous sperm donor donation. A successful procedure will make the woman conceive and carry a baby just as in a normal manner. A pregnancy resulting from artificial insemination is no different from a pregnancy achieved by sexual intercourse. The woman who carries the baby becomes the biological mother while the sperm donor will be the biological father.
The semen for artificial insemination can be obtained through a number of ways. Some methods require only men, while others require a combination of a male and female. Those that require only men to obtain semen are masturbation or the aspiration of sperm by means of a puncture of the testicle and epididymis. When it involves a combination of a male and female, interrupted intercourse, intercourse with a collection condom, or the post-coital aspiration of the semen from the vagina can be used.
There are several techniques used in artificial insemination which are intracervical insemination (ICI), intrauterine insemination (IUI), intrauterine tuboperitoneal insemination (IUTPI), and intra-tubal insemination (ITI). Intracervical insemination simulates an ejaculation of semen by the penis into the vagina during intercourse. It is painless and is the simplest, easiest and most common method of artificial insemination. Intrauterine insemination involves injections of washed sperm into the uterus with a catheter. Intrauterine tuboperitoneal insemination (IUTPI) deals with an injection of washed sperm into the uterus and fallopian tubes. Intra-tubal insemination involves the injection of washed sperm into the fallopian tube.
Artificial insemination can benefit couples or individuals with a range of needs. IUI can help support a couple that produces healthy sperm and eggs but is unable to have intercourse, possibly as a result of medical conditions. It can help bypass the problem of cervical factor infertility in women which occurs when the cervix either does not produce mucus that helps sperm travel to the womb, or the mucus contains a substance that kills the sperm. It is also helpful to some men who are unable to produce enough sperm for successful fertilization, or their sperm may not be successfully motile.
As much as artificial insemination has been a benefit to infertile couples, the risk and error involved is a major concern. There are actually a few risks when undergoing artificial insemination. There is a risk of conceiving twins or triplets if a woman receives IUI at the same time as other fertility medications. This increases the chances of complications such as premature birth or miscarriage.
Errors made by fertility clinics by switching embryos, sperms, or eggs are also a concern. This leads to a case of men fathering a baby that belongs to another man just as the case with paternity fraud but this time is a result of costly mistakes by the people in charge of fertility clinics where the procedure is been carried out.
Errors with infertility treatment can be prevented. Much attention is needed to see it through. Here are some tips for avoiding medical errors in fertility treatment:
- Make sure the doctor to carry out this procedure and the embryology lab where the procedure is to be carried out are both certified. Find out if the physician belongs to the Nigerian Medical Association and brand certified in an area of specialty that relates to infertility.
- Check the center for Disease Control Statistics on the clinic to see not only their pregnancy rate, but also their live birth rate, and multiple birth rate.
- Ask the clinic about their labeling protocol for sperm, eggs, and embryos. They should use at least two, and preferably more, unique identities such as bar-coding, color-coding, name, number, etc.
- Ask the clinic what safeguards are used to ensure that the correct eggs, sperm, and embryos are used for each procedure.
- Check to see if there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions against your doctor.
- Ask the clinic if a nurse is available to work with you individually if needed to make certain you understand how to administer the medication.
- During your procedure, ask questions that can enlighten you and make sure your embryos aren’t switched for another person’s specimen.
Procreation through artificial insemination when not free from error is very bad for patients. Extra care must be taken not to make this happen. Do well to share your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for taking the time in reading this piece.