Artificial insemination is now used by about 15,000 couples annually. About 10,000 children are born from the procedure each year.
Who uses it:
Couples in which a fertile husband cannot impregnate his wife for physical or psychological reasons.
More commonly, partners in which the woman is fertile but the male sterile. Also:
When males have a low sperm count, a blood incompatibility with the wife, have had a vasectomy or are known carriers of genetic disease. The sperm in these instances comes from male donors.
Who are donors: Volunteers chosen by professionals at the sperm bank. This is the center where specimens are stored, usually in a frozen state. Likeliest candidates: Professionals (such as doctors or medical students), lawyers, and Ph.D.'s. Often they are married men with children. Why: They are proven fertile.
Donors always remain anonymous. However, the parents select specimens according to traits of the donor (blonde hair, blue eyes, etc.).
Procedure: The woman has two or three inseminations from the same donor during a menstrual cycle. Cost: About $65 per insemination.
The legal status of the child is questionable in many areas. Only 15 states have laws declaring the children as legally belonging to the parents. Result: Many parents are secretive about the process to avoid legal battles.
The procedure may have to be repeated for several months before conception occurs. The length of time varies from one individual to another.
The emotionally charged procedure can be tough for the husband. This happens to even the most understanding and rational of men. Solution: Psychiatric counseling.
Now, on another matter: The Importance Of Nonsexual Touching
The human warmth that everyone longs for is much more than a psychological exchange between people. Physical contact is one of the most important contributors to the feeling of inner warmth. So important is touching, that people who don't get enough of it often use psychological or emotional contact as a replacement. Point: Everyone needs physical contact with other human bodies.
Examples: Young children deprived of the touch of gentle human hands are disease prone. Their central nervous systems fail to develop properly. Deprived adults often suffer generalized depression, discomfort, and edginess.
Ineffective substitutes for touching:
A tendency to take far more showers and baths than are actually necessary. Purpose: To obtain the physical warmth they provide.
A more significant substitute: Sexual activity. Why it happens: Most people tend to mistake their basic desire for skin-on-skin physical contact for a sexual impulse.
Key: Physical contact itself is of value, whether or not there is personal attraction or tenderness between the people who touch each other. It's a romantic fallacy that only people who care about each other deeply can have gratifying physical contact.
The better way: Couples should try to negotiate some simple skin-on-skin caressing or cuddling when on a casual date, instead of hurling themselves into immediate sexual activity. People who get enough warm exchanges are likely to be less obsessed with sex. The surprising discovery for many: Cuddling is much more intimate than sex. That's the major reason why people who are afraid of genuine intimacy prefer to move immediately into sexual activity, without too many preliminaries.
Who profits most from increased skin contact:
Cardiac risks. Well-being and longevity increase for heart patients who are lucky enough to have partners who provide regular physical contact.
Type A, hurry-up or driven personalities.
They usually can be slowed down by increasing their level of skin contact. Possible forms increased contact can take: Regular massages. But preferably, skin-on-skin cuddling or touching.
Unconscious patients show a marked improvement in their vital signs when someone holds their hands or strokes them. Even more significant: This works even when the hand holder is a stranger.
How to get enough skin-on-skin contact:
Recognize the symptoms of touch deprivation: Irritability, sadness, or depression.
Accept the fact that touching gratification can come even where there is no particular tenderness or genuine sexual interest. See insemination for more information.
Create situations that make skin contact easy. Couples often unconsciously make direct physical contact harder by wearing nightclothes or sleeping in twin beds. Instead:
Sleep in close proximity, in positions comfortable for both partners. Mistake married people often make: Withholding touching, cuddling, or other skin-on-skin contact as a way of punishing a partner during hostilities. Trap: Cutting off one's partner from physical comfort also means cutting one's self off.
Be aware of a greater need for physical comfort during times of crisis. When there's a break in a love relationship, either through illness, divorce, or death of a partner, the period of transition can be made easier by obtaining regular doses of skin-on-skin comfort. Even simple massage helps.
Remember: Skin-on-skin contact is important in itself. It is not simply a sexual prelude. Touching need not lead to sexual activity to be greatly satisfying.
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