artificial insemination


artificial insemination
the injection of semen into the vagina or uterus by means of a syringe or the like rather than by coitus. Abbr.: AI
[1895-1900]

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Introduction of semen into a female's vagina or cervix by means other than sexual intercourse.

First developed for animal breeding in the early 20th century in Russia, it is now also used to induce pregnancy in women whose partners cannot impregnate them. The partner's (or other donor's) semen is inserted with a syringe. Though reasonably successful, artificial insemination in humans raises moral issues that are not yet fully resolved. In livestock, deep-frozen semen from a male animal can be stored for long periods without losing its fertility, thus allowing a single bull to sire as many as 10,000 calves a year.

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      the introduction of semen into the vagina or cervix of a female by any method other than sexual intercourse. The procedure has become widely used in animal breeding and for the impregnation of women whose husbands are sterile or impotent.

      The practical use of artificial insemination in animals was developed during the early 1900s in Russia and spread to other countries in the '30s. Its chief advantage is that the desirable characteristics of a bull or other male livestock animal can be passed on more quickly and to more progeny than if that animal were mated with females in a natural fashion. Ten thousand or more calves have been produced annually from a single bull through the use of artificial insemination. In the actual procedure used, semen is obtained from a male animal and, after being diluted, is deep-frozen, after which it can be stored for long periods of time without losing its fertility. For use, the semen is thawed and then introduced into the genital tract of a female animal.

      In humans, artificial insemination has become a useful, if somewhat controversial, technique to impregnate women who are physically capable of conceiving and bearing a child but who cannot do so through sexual intercourse, usually because their husband is sterile or impotent. Fresh semen is obtained from the husband (if he is impotent) or from some other male donor (if the husband is sterile) and is introduced by a syringe into the woman's vagina or cervix during the middle of her menstrual cycle. The semen can also have been previously frozen and stored in a sperm bank. The technique is reasonably successful in achieving conception and pregnancy, although the delicate moral issues surrounding it have yet to be fully resolved.

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Universalium. 2010.

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