If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant IUI is something that you and your partner may be considering depending on the type of infertility issues that you’re going through. IUI, intrauterine insemination, is a medical procedure that is used in the treatment of infertility.
Can IUI Treatment Help You Conceive?
The procedure is very straightforward and simple. The treatment is done in your doctor’s office and will take about one hour. Sperm, either from your partner or using donor sperm, will be “washed” and then concentrated.
On the day that you’re ovulating, the washed sperm will be inserted directly into your uterus.
The desired end result is that the sperm moves through the fallopian tubes and fertilize an egg, resulting in pregnancy. IUI treatment can be performed on its own with your natural ovulation cycle, or it can be combined with fertility drugs that help to trigger ovulation.
Your doctor will decide if you require fertility drugs or not.
Do You Qualify for IUI Treatment?
There are many different factors that can affect your fertility. The following are the most common infertility problems for which intrauterine insemination is used:
- Sperm abnormalities: If your partner’s sperm has any abnormalities, IUI can help prepare his sperm for optimum mobility as well as separate low-quality sperm from normal sperm. Concentrating the sperm in IUI treatment is also a way to overcome abnormalities in sperm shape and size.
- Sperm allergies: Although quite rare, there are some women who are allergic to the proteins found in their partner’s sperm. These proteins cause swelling and burning in the vagina. This sensitivity can be so severe that it makes intercourse without a condom virtually impossible. IUI treatment resolves this allergy problem by removing many of the proteins in the sperm before insertion into the uterus.
- Cervical issues: If your cervical fluid is too thick it can stop your partner’s sperm from travelling to the fallopian tubes. In a normal cervical environment, the fluid that is produced by the cervix will provide ideal conditions for the sperm’s journey. IUI bypasses the cervix and places the sperm right into your uterus. IUI also increases the amount of sperm that is available to fertilize the egg.
These are the three main fertility issues for using intrauterine insemination. If using your partner’s sperm is not an option due to sperm abnormalities or mobility problems, frozen donor sperm can be obtained and then thawed before the IUI procedure.
Predicting Ovulation is Crucial for IUI
If you’re going to be using your partner’s sperm, timing is important for sperm collection. As well, the timing of the IUI treatment is just as crucial if conception is going to occur.
IUI needs to be performed on the day that you ovulate. Therefore, sperm needs to be available at that precise time.
You’ll use an ovulation predictor kit at home to determine when you’re ovulating. Ovulation occurs when there is a rise in LH, a hormone that stimulates ovulation in the female reproductive system.
Some doctors will also give you Clomid to ensure that you ovulate. Clomid is a fertility drug used to trigger ovulation.
Does IUI Treatment Actually Wash Sperm?
On the day of your IUI procedure, your partner’s sperm will be collected. The sperm isn’t really “washed.” What really happens is that the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid.
Abnormal and immobile sperm are removed, leaving only healthy sperm to be inserted into your uterus.
If your partner’s sperm is not going to be used, the donor sperm will also have gone through the washing process.
IUI is Painless
Once the sperm has been washed it’s ready to be inserted into your uterus. This is done by inserting a catheter into the uterus. A syringe then injects the sperm through the catheter and directly into the uterus.
You may feel a bit of mild cramping at this time and experience a bit of mild bleeding.
Once the procedure is over you’ll rest for about 30 minutes to an hour before you’ll be allowed to go home.
How Successful is Intrauterine Insemination?
How successful your IUI treatment is will depend on a number of factors such as your age and what your infertility problems are. On average, the success rate for each IUI cycle is about 5 to 20 percent.
Your chances may be higher if you take infertility drugs prior to the procedure.
Keep in mind that you may need to undergo more than one intrauterine insemination cycle before you become pregnant. The average number of cycles for most couples is 3 to 4.
After Your IUI Procedure
A pregnancy test will be given to you about two weeks after you’ve undergone intrauterine insemination. If you’re not pregnant, you can prepare for the next cycle right away.
Most fertility clinics will only allow you to undergo up to six IUI cycles.
After this time it will most likely be recommended that you try another infertility treatment, such as IVF. IUI is most successful for those couples who are only experiencing mild to moderate cases of infertility.