For certain couples who are facing infertility, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) can increase the likelihood of getting pregnant normally. Intrauterine insemination is a medical procedure that helps to treat infertility. In this, sperm is directly placed inside a woman’s uterus to promote fertilization. It is a way of increasing the number of healthy sperms that reaches fallopian tubes.
Though IUI makes it possible for sperm to reach fallopian tubes, it still has to reach and fertilize the egg. The goal of IUI is to achieve pregnancy, which is possible if the sperm fertilizes the egg and egg implants properly on the uterus.
IUI is also known as ‘donor insemination’ or ‘artificial insemination’. When compared to IVF, it is a minimum invasive and affordable procedure.
When is IUI Treatment Recommended?
There are many reasons for which you might consider IUI. The path of parenthood comes with many treatment options, which might make you worry more, but remember every approach is valid.
Various factors can cause infertility. However, IUI can be used as a fertility treatment in the following conditions.
• Unexplained infertility - IUI is advised in unexplained infertility along with medications that induce ovulation.
• Infertility due to endometriosis - during endometriosis by giving medication for healthy egg production and opting for IUI can increase the chances of conception.
• Infertility due to cervical issues - scarring or mucosal problems can be the reason for infertility. IUI bypasses the cervix and allows the sperms to enter into the uterus directly, thus increases the number of sperms available for fertilization.
• The male-factor causing infertility - During low sperm count, decreased sperm motility, or ejaculation problems, IUI can be used. IUI allows choosing healthy motile sperms that increases the chances of fertilization.
• Donor sperm - For women who need to conceive using donor sperms, IUI is a commonly used procedure.
In some conditions where IUI is not recommended, IVF can be considered. Discussing your options of conceiving can help you to determine the right course of treatment for you.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Procedure/technique
IUI is a painless, non-invasive procedure, and it can also be done with your natural cycle without using medication. During your ovulation, sperms collected from your partner are used for IUI.
However, IUI can also be combined with ovarian stimulation medications such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH). This results in the production and release of multiple eggs, increasing the chances of conception.
Your fertility clinic and the doctor will have specific instructions to follow for the IUI procedure.
• You may have to visit your fertility clinic during menstruation for the blood test, ultrasound, and to receive instructions about medications.
• If medications are needed, you will be advised to start your medications during your menstrual cycle.
• After a week, you will be called for an ultrasound and blood test.
• Depending on your test results, you will be called to examine if you are ovulating, which is after 10 to 15 days of starting your medications.
• Semen samples from your partner will be collected on the day of the procedure or well before, and stored.
• Sperms will be washed to remove seminal fluid and other debris.
• IUI does not require anesthesia; it is a quick procedure and is less painful.
• You will be made to lie down. Your doctor will use a speculum to open the vagina gently.
• The sperms will be inserted into the uterus using a long and thin tube.
• You will be advised to relax in a reclined position for about thirty minutes.
• You might experience slight discomfort or mild cramping during the procedure. Sometimes spotting or vaginal bleeding is also seen.
• You will be asked to take a pregnancy test two weeks after the IUI procedure.
Risks Associated with IUI
There might be chances of infection, but an experienced doctor takes all precautionary measures using sterile instruments to avoid any infection. If you are taking fertility medication during IUI, there are chances of multiple pregnancies. Your fertility doctor will adjust the medication and keep monitoring you to avoid any complications.
You may experience Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome when there is an over-response to fertility medication. Consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms;
• Nausea and vomiting
• Shortness of breath
• Severe abdominal pain or pain in the pelvic area
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• Bloating of the abdomen
Pros of IUI
• Fewer medications needed
• Less expensive
• Less Invasive
Cons of IUI
• Addresses few infertility issues
• Low success rate
• Not as effective as IVF in decreasing the chances of miscarriages
• Multiple pregnancies can lead to high-risk pregnancy
IUI success depends on several factors. Your age, cause of infertility, and medications used can influence the success of the IUI procedure. The success rate ranges from 10 to 20 percent, depending on other health factors. If you don’t conceive through IUI, your fertility doctor may recommend In vitro fertilization (IVF) which has a better success rate.
It is not possible to predict anything when it comes to infertility. But by having an open discussion with your doctor and by understanding your health and infertility issues, you can find some solution. Intrauterine insemination is a painless, non-invasive, low-risk, and affordable procedure that has helped many couples to conceive. If you are facing infertility issues and want to know if IUI is the right choice for you, then consulting a fertility doctor can help. By analyzing your health and cause of infertility, your doctor can determine if you can consider IUI.