History of human artificial insemination


Artificial insemination, assisted reproduction, history, human, intrauterine insemination, semen


1Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
2Department of Pathology, ZOL, Campus St Jan, Schiepse Bos 6, 3600 Genk, Belgium.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: willem.ombelet@telenet.be


Artificial insemination with homologous (AIH) or donor semen (AID) is nowadays a very popular treatment option for many subfertile women worldwide. The rationale for the use of artificial insemination is to increase gamete density at the site of fertilisation. The main reason for the renewed interest in artificial insemination is undoubtly the refinement of techniques for the preparation of washed motile spermatozoa. The sequence of events leading to today’s common use of artificial insemination traces back to scientific studies and experimentation many centuries ago. Modern techniques used in human artificial insemination programmes are mostly adapted from the work on cattle by dairy farmers wishing to improve milk production by using artificial insemination with sperm of selected bulls with well chosen genetic traits. The history of artificial insemination is reviewed with  particular interest to the most important hurdles and milestones.