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Insemination is the deliberate introduction of sperm into a female animal or plant for the purpose of impregnating or fertilizing the female for sexual reproduction. The sperm is introduced into the uterus of a mammal or the oviduct of an oviparous (egg-laying) animal.

In mammals, insemination normally occurs during sexual intercourse, but insemination can take place in other ways, such as artificial insemination. Each form of insemination has legal, moral and interpersonal implications. Whether insemination takes place naturally or by artificial means, however, the pregnancy and the progress of it will be the same.

Insemination may be called in vivo fertilisation (from in vivo meaning "within the living") because an egg is fertilized inside the body, this is in contrast with in vitro fertilisation.

In plants, the process of insemination is referred to as pollination.

Natural insemination[edit]

Insemination of a woman by sexual intercourse is technically referred to as "natural insemination" (NI) i.e. insemination by natural means.[1] although this term is generally understood in the context of third-party reproduction where a male who is not the woman's usual sexual partner (a sperm donor) fathers a child for the woman by providing his sperm through sexual intercourse rather than by providing his sperm for it to be used to produce a pregnancy in the woman by artificial means[2].

The incidence of natural insemination by a sperm donor is usually a private matter, and may also carry greater health risks than where sperm has been processed by a fertility center. Advocates claim natural insemination generates higher pregnancy rates and a more 'natural' conception which does not involve the intervention and intrusion of third parties; however, it has not been medically proven that natural insemination has an increased chance of pregnancy.[3] Additionally, conceiving through natural insemination is considered a natural process, so the father is liable for child support and custody rights of the child.[3] The law therefore usually draws a distinction between a man fathering a child by natural means, and a man who provides his sperm for it to be used to father a child by artificial means (e.g. artificial insemination).

In most cultures, insemination by a male through sexual intercourse, whether the woman's husband, normal sex partner or not, is subject to social and sexual inhibitions and taboos, and has legal, moral and interpersonal implications.[4]

Artificial insemination[edit]

Artificial insemination is the introduction of sperm into the reproductive tract of a female by means other than sexual intercourse for the purpose of impregnating the female.[5]

In humans, artificial insemination can be used when a woman or man cannot, for any of a number of reasons, conceive by natural means. The sperm may be provided by either a sexual partner of her choice or by a sperm donor.[6] Artificial insemination techniques available include intracervical insemination and intrauterine insemination. Artificial insemination using donor sperm is most commonly employed by lesbian couples, single women.[7] and heterosexual couples when the male partner is suffering from male infertility.[8] Compared with natural insemination, artificial insemination may be more invasive, and it may require professional assistance and medical expertise, which will have a higher cost.[9]

In addition to situations where a woman's male partner suffers from male infertility, sperm from a woman's male partner can also be used to impregnate the woman artificially after the male partner has died or the partner is unable to physical impregnate his partner. There are laws in some countries which restrict and regulate who can donate sperm and who is able to receive artificial insemination, and the consequences of such insemination. Subject to any regulations restricting who can obtain donor sperm, donor sperm is available to all women who, for whatever reason, want or need it. Some women living in a jurisdiction which does not permit artificial insemination in the circumstance in which she finds herself may travel to another jurisdiction (a 'fertility destination') which permits it. (See Sperm donation laws by country.)

Artificial insemination has been and continues to be commonly used in livestock breeding as an efficient way of increasing breeding.[10]

Other forms of insemination[edit]

In various other animal species, sperm can be introduced into the female's reproductive tract by various means. For example, in some species of hemiptera sperm can be introduced violently by traumatic insemination, parenteral injection through the body wall. In some species of animals, sperm finds its way through the body wall when the spermatophore is left in contact with the female's skin, such as in the onychophora.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is natural insemination?". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Sex for babies offer: Women desperate to get pregnant offering to sleep with sperm donors". Mirror. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "What is natural insemination?". Retrieved 4 December 2015. Natural insemination has not been recognised in any state as a legal contract, and is still viewed as a natural procreation process where the sperm donor, or the biological father in this case, is still liable for care and support of the child. That means that unlike artificial insemination, a woman pregnant through natural insemination has a legal right to claim child support from the donor and the donor has a legal right to the custody of the child.
  4. ^ Walshe, M. O'C. "Buddhism and Sex". Access to Insight. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Infertility and Artificial Insemination". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  6. ^ Berkley, Sean (12 November 2011). "6 Terrifying Things Nobody Tells You About Donating Sperm". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ Single Mothers by
  8. ^ "Male infertility". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  9. ^ Uffalussy, Jennifer Gerson (6 February 2014). "The Cost of IVF: 4 Things I Learned While Battling Infertility". Forbes. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Benefits of artificial insemination in livestock". Animal Smart. American Society of Animal Science. Retrieved 4 December 2015.

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