|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Shaina, Excellent question! Getting pregnant is exactly the process of injecting sperm into the vagina. Generally the girl doesnít do it herself but the sperm is injected by (we would hope) the husband and owner of the sperm supply. The cost of artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, or other techniques is due to the fact that couples going through any one of these assisted reproductive technology (ART) processes are not able to get pregnant in the natural course of having sex during the ovulatory phase of the womanís cycle. The mother- or father- to-be may have a problem that needs assistance to overcome for pregnancy to occur. In some cases the problem is a combination of the two, and either one might be able to produce a baby with a different spouse. If a woman and her husband do not have any reproductive problems, then the husband could indeed collect a sperm sample and hand it over to the wife who could then draw it up into a syringe and inject it into the vagina. If this were done at the time of ovulation, a pregnancy could occur. Of course this is a whole lot of trouble to go through when it would be much easier and better for the relationship (and more fun) to just have a wonderful dinner out, take in a movie or concert, enjoy walking around the neighborhood talking about future plans (maybe for a family), and then go home and enjoy each otherís company intimately, with intercourse as a part of the whole package of time spent together. ARTs is expensive only because the doctors and scientists have to determine where the problem lies and what technique will be the best one to use to overcome the problem. Then the couple have to be scheduled to come in and go through the procedure. If you take the sperm injection idea for an example, a husband that has a particular type of sperm problem where his best sperm are in very low numbers, would come in and produce a semen sample for the andrology laboratory to then process in such a way that the good sperm would be separated out and concentrated. These sperm would be given to the doctor who would not just put them in the vagina but actually run a very thin tube through the opening of the cervix and place the good sperm in the uterus. This would mean less distance for the sperm to swim and also bypass the cervical barrier to sperm passage. This becomes very costly as the various techniques available to the doctors increase in complexity.
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