Intrauterine insemination is an ART infertility treatment in which the sperm is artificially inseminated inside the uterus to facilitate natural fertilization. Couples experiencing infertility have a higher chance of conception from IUI treatment than from regularly scheduled intercourse. Although IUI has a lower success rate compared to IVF, it is less invasive, affordable, and risk-free than any other fertility treatment.
If you’re considering this treatment, you’re most likely curious about the procedure, success rate and safety of the IUI treatment. To get the answer to all your questions, keep reading on.
What Exactly is IUI treatment, and how is it different from IVF treatment?
Intrauterine means ‘within the uterus,’ so in IUI, insemination and hence fertilization occur inside the uterus, similar to natural conception via sexual intercourse. However, in IUI treatment, the uterus is artificially inseminated or injected with a sperm sample using a catheter tube near the ovulation period. The sperm will travel up to the fallopian tube, meet the egg, and carry out fertilization.
The sperm sample is prepared by washing and concentrating healthy motile sperm. Sperm washing also removes prostaglandins from the sperm sample. The sperm sample used for IUI can be self or donor sperm.
In IVF treatment, the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries through a transvaginal procedure, and eggs are fertilized by the sperm outside the uterus in a laboratory – hence the name In Vitro (outside) fertilization. The fertilized eggs are monitored for embryo growth, and after 3-5 days of fertilization, the embryos are placed back inside the uterus for implantation. So, the key difference between IUI and IVF treatment is that fertilization is carried out within and outside the uterus respectively.
Who can get IUI treatment?
IUI treatment does not overcome every infertility factor. However, it is considered the initial infertility treatment for unknown infertility factors. Here are some infertility factors where IUI treatment is recommended to patients:
- Women with ovulation problems
- Women with one blocked or damaged fallopian tube
- Mild endometriosis in women
- Couples unable to have sexual intercourse
- Mild male infertility; mildly low sperm count and motility
- Ejaculation problem and erectile dysfunction in male
- Couples or individuals using donor sperm
- HIV patients
- Cervical mucus in women
- The male has a genetic disorder
Procedure of intrauterine insemination
The first course of action for any treatment is diagnosis. The fertility expert will recommend you and your partner for blood tests, ultrasound and semen analysis to check whether:
- The woman is regularly ovulating
- Fallopian tubes are not blocked or damaged
- No uterine and vaginal scarring, infection and mucus
- Follicles are growing fine
- Semen parameters are normal; normal sperm count, motility, normal shape and size of sperms
- HIV and AIDS tests
Based on the reports, your fertility expert will decide whether IUI treatment is helpful for you or not. Furthermore, if you’re recommended for IUI treatment – depending on infertility, the treatment can proceed with or without fertility medications.
The IUI procedure step-wise-step follows as:
- Egg Production stimulation and Ovulation Trigger
A woman must produce enough healthy eggs and ovulate for IUI treatment, whether naturally or medicinally. In some cases, only the natural ovulation cycle is followed for IUI treatment where the male partner has a low sperm count and motility. Otherwise, the ovaries are stimulated for multiple egg maturation with hormonal medication or injections (e.g., Clomid, Letrozole, and Gonadotropin) so that more than one egg would release during ovulation available for fertilization.
The fertility expert tracks the ovulation cycle (Natural or stimulated) to predict the time of ovulation and the number of eggs available for fertilization. Monitoring will also allow doctors to change the medication according to the growth of follicles to reduce the probability of multiples. A trigger shot of gonadotropin is administered to trigger the ovulation to schedule it with the insemination procedure so that the sperm reaches the eggs at the right time for fertilization.
- Semen collection and washing
The male partner or donor must provide the semen sample when the ovulation period approaches. The semen sample is washed, sperm are separated from extra semen fluid, and healthy motile sperm are concentrated in the sample.
- Artificial Intrauterine Insemination
The fertility specialist estimates the time for ovulation and will call you for insemination near the ovulation period. During the insemination procedure, a long catheter tube containing concentrated sperm fluid is inserted into the uterus through the vagina via the cervix and sperm are injected inside the uterus. The procedure is pain-free and usually performed without sedatives. If patients feel anxious and uncomfortable, mild anesthesia may be administered.
- Pregnancy Test
If the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg and implantation occurs, the pregnancy can be detected through a blood test after two-three weeks post-IUI procedure. Early testing can give false results.
Is IUI treatment safe?
The risk factors for IUI treatment are low as it is mostly natural except for the insemination process. However, some complications may arise due to some steps of the procedure:
- Some vaginal bleeding may occur from the insemination procedure, but it doesn’t impact the IUI procedure. You may also experience mild cramping after the insemination procedure. If you experience abnormal bleeding, then you should immediately contact your doctor.
- There is a slight chance of developing an intrauterine infection from the IUI procedure.
- Multiples: This is the most common concern while opting for IUI treatment. The procedure for IUI treatment itself doesn’t have the likelihood of establishing multiple pregnancies. However, if medication is used for ovulation, that might produce multiple eggs resulting in multiple fertilization. Multiple pregnancies are risky, in general. The risk associated with multiple pregnancies includes miscarriage, early labour or premature birth, and low birth weight.
However, an experienced and expert fertility doctor can lower the chances for multiples in an IUI treatment by attentively tracing the ovulation cycle and administering the right medication; so that not more than the required – eggs mature and release during ovulation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of IUI Treatment
- Minimally invasive
- Most affordable fertility treatment
- Identical to the process of natural conception. but a higher success rate for conception than regular intercourse
- Minimally stressful for the patients
- It only aids with certain infertility factors and can’t help with severe infertility factors
- Missed ovulation period can lead to IUI cycle failure, so timing is very crucial for this treatment
- Low success rates compared to other fertility treatments, namely IVF, ICSI, etc.
- Risk of multiple pregnancies.
Success rates and cost of IUI treatment
The success rates for IUI treatment vary from patient to patient, and no two patients will have the same success rates, even considering the same infertility issue. The success rate influencing factors for IUI treatment are age and severity of infertility. In general, the success rates for IUI treatment are about 15-20% per cycle for women under 35. Older women have a lower chance of conception with IUI treatment; therefore, they are usually recommended for IVF treatment.
IUI treatment can take an average of 3-4 cycles to establish the pregnancy. After 3-4 cycles, the success rates decline rapidly, and IVF treatment is considered for infertility treatment.
The cost of IUI treatment also depends on the severity of infertility and how many IUI cycles are required for the treatment. Different fertility centers offer different pricing for IUI treatment depending on their experience, expertise, success rates, and facilities.
At Risaa IVF, we offer a reasonable IUI cost with the highest success rate of 15-25%. Our fertility experts are vastly experienced in the field of fertility care. We provide best-in-class fertility treatments of international standards. Contact us to know more about the IUI, IVF, and ICSI treatments, or leave your queries below.
How long does IUI treatment take?
Whether the treatment follows a natural or stimulated ovulation cycle, the IUI treatment can take 3-4 weeks per cycle.
How to Increase the Success Rate for IUI treatment?
As we said earlier, the timing and quality of sperm are crucial during IUI treatment. The doctor should be perfectly able to match the insemination procedure with the timing of ovulation so that that cycle won’t be missed. Also, to ensure that the sperm must fertilize the eggs, the quality of sperm should be good.
How much time does artificial insemination take, and is it painful?
The procedure of insemination only takes 15-30 mins, and it is performed in an outpatient setting. And, no, the procedure is not painful. Sometimes, to completely eliminate the pain, the doctor may administer mild sedatives to patients.
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