By Neus Ferrando Gilabert BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 06/15/2015

Artificial insemination (AI) stands for an easy, fast, painless Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). It may be performed during an usual gynecologic visit and anesthesia is not required.

AI step by step

The steps to follow in artificial insemination are:

Ovulation induction

Artificial insemination is performed by means of gonadotropins in small doses and controlling at what point of menstrual cycle the patient is.

It is also important to control the number of follicles that are expected to be obtained in order to avoid a multiple pregnancy. Follicular ripening can be monitored by means of a transvaginal ultrasound and an estradiol test. In case too many follicles are developed, chances for more than one ovum being fertilized increase. However, even though no fertility problems are detected, the ovarian cycle is also stimulated for several reasons:

  • To monitor the ovarian cycle.
  • To enhance the prospects of this technique by increasing the chances for sperm–egg encounter to occur.

Semen collection and preparation

It is very important to take into account the male sexual abstinence for the second step at least four days before masturbation, which is carried out for the semen collection. A sexual abstinence period from 3 to 5 days before the masturbation to collect a sample of the ejaculate is advisable. The time between ejaculation and collection has to be controlled as well as how many days have passed between ejaculation and insemination.


About 24 hours after placing the semen into the woman’s uterus by means of an intrauterine insemination cannula, HCG is injected in order to promote ovulation. This will allow the sperm to be waiting for the ovum when the latter leaves the follicle. Inside a woman’s body, sperm can live for up to 3-5 days, whilst the oocyte survival time is 24 hours once the woman has ovulated.

The main advantage of this technique is that no anaesthesia is required, since it is not painful for the patient.

What to do after AI

This is one of the easiest and less aggressive techniques, since a large amount of hormones are not needed for the stimulation of the ovaries and anesthesia is not needed either. That is why the patient can return to normal life once she has recovered from the treatment.

Women usually are left resting for around 15-30 minutes after the insemination. When this time is up, the woman can return home and continue her usual lifestyle. However, leading a quiet life, free from excessive stress and alterations, is highly advisable.

A blood test will be done to look for high levels of a hormone called beta-HCG one or two weeks later. Such test will determine whether implantation has occurred or not and, thus, if the insemination has been successful and pregnancy has been achieved.

In case there is a negative pregnancy test, artificial insemination can be performed again this time changing the stimulation pattern or monitoring the time of ovulation as accurate as possible.

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Authors and contributors

 Neus Ferrando Gilabert
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Postgraduate Course in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH). Experience managing Embryology and Andrology Labs at Centro Médico Manzanera (Logroño, Spain). More information
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