If you and your partner are dealing with infertility, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘IUI Treatment’, and you’ve wondered, ‘What is IUI?’ and ‘How is it performed?’. This post will introduce you to IUI treatment and its procedure, so continue reading.
According to research,15% of couples suffer from infertility during childbearing age. IUI is the first in-aid treatment for unknown and mild infertility factors, such as low sperm count and motility (in males), PCOS, mild endometriosis, cervical mucus, etc. IUI treatment assists with the insemination process for the natural fertilization of eggs by the sperm.
What is IUI treatment for infertility?
IUI, short for Intrauterine Insemination, is an assisted reproductive technique (ART) used for infertility treatments. In this treatment, the uterus is artificially inseminated with a processed sperm sample, concentrated in high-quality active sperm, to facilitate natural fertilization inside the uterus (hence named intrauterine). IUI treatment aims to increase the population of sperm that reaches the fallopian tube during ovulation, increasing the likelihood of fertilization.
In the process of natural conception, the sperm has to travel through the vaginal opening to the uterus via the cervix and finally to the fallopian tube, where it encounters the eggs and fertilizes one or more eggs. The fertilized egg(s) travels to the uterus and develops into an embryo that implants on the uterine wall for fetal development.
However, if the sperm can’t reach the fallopian tubes, if their population is too low, or if ovulation is absent and there aren’t enough eggs, then sperm might not be able to fertilize an egg, causing infertility.
In IUI treatment, the active sperm sample is injected directly inside the uterus, which boosts sperm to reach the eggs at the right time. This process of artificial insemination increases the chances of natural conception.
When is IUI Treatment recommended?
Suppose a couple or individual is experiencing infertility and can’t conceive naturally, even with the help of fertility drugs. In that case, IUI treatment is recommended for the couple or individuals in the following cases:
- Unknown cause of infertility
- Ovulatory disorder (e.g. PCOS)
- Mild endometriosis
- Low sperm count and/or motility
- Abnormal shape and size of sperms
- Difficulty ejaculating
- Cervical problems in women
- A couple couldn’t have sexual intercourse
- Couple using donor sperm for conception
- Single or same-sex women with donor sperm
- If the intended father has a genetic disorder
IUI is not effective for all infertility factors, and if IUI treatment couldn’t help with infertility even after multiple cycles, then IVF treatment is recommended to the patients. For instance, IVF treatment is more effective for women over 35; therefore, IUI treatment is rarely suggested to older women.
The procedure of IUI Treatment: Step-wise-Step Guide
IUI is a simple, quick and pain-free fertility treatment. There are two basic IUI treatments; Natural cycle IUI treatment and IUI treatment with ovarian stimulation medication. A natural IUI cycle is suggested if the woman is ovulating just fine. Otherwise, the alternative is IUI treatment with ovulation medication.
All fertility clinics start treatments with the diagnosis of infertility. The fertility specialist will ask for your medical history and refer you and your partner for blood tests, transvaginal ultrasound and semen analysis. If you and your fertility specialist conclude that IUI is an optimal choice for your Infertility treatment based on the diagnosis; the procedure follows:
For IUI treatment, a woman must produce enough healthy eggs for fertilization.
- Medications, namely Clomid or Letrozole and Gonadotropin (hCG), are used to stimulate ovaries for multiple egg production during ovulation.
- The medication also allows doctors to control and trace the ovulation cycle.
- Even if you’re following a natural cycle for IUI treatment, the doctor will track your ovulation cycle through bloodwork and ultrasounds.
- It may take several appointments to determine the exact period of ovulation.
- You’ll have to start the medication during your periods. The estimated time of ovulation is 10-16 days after starting the medication.
- Once the doctor estimates your ovulation timing, they’ll call you to the clinic with your male partner to provide a semen sample for the IUI procedure.
Sperm Sample Collection
- The semen sample is collected on the same day of the IUI procedure because fresh semen is highly concentrated in active sperm.
- After 24-48 hours, the sperm are usually inactive and considered dead.
- The semen sample is processed (washed); the seminal fluid and inactive sperm are discarded. And the sperm sample is concentrated in active, high-quality sperm for the IUI procedure.
- If your partner can’t provide sperm, then donor sperm can be thawed for IUI treatment.
The final procedure is to inject sperm inside the uterus. The Insemination procedure is performed in an outpatient setting at your doctor’s office around the estimated time of ovulation.
- It is usually painless and doesn’t require the administration of sedatives or anaesthetics.
- Like a pap smear test, you’ll lie on your back with your legs open.
- The doctor will use a speculum to open the vagina to better view the cervix.
- The sperm fluid is injected inside the uterus through the cervix using a long catheter tube.
- You’ll have to rest for 10-30 minutes after insemination, and you can continue your normal activities.
- Usually, few women experience mild cramping and discomfort during and following the procedure.
- For 2-3 days, you’ll have to abstain from sexual activities.
- You should not lift heavy objects and exercise lightly.
- Keep a positive mindset following the procedure.
Pregnancy Test: You can take a pregnancy test approximately two weeks after the IUI procedure.
Benefits of IUI Treatments
- IUI treatment is less invasive and affordable than other fertility treatments (e.g. IVF).
- IUI treatment is similar to natural conception.
- It is a pain-free procedure.
- No recovery period.
- Less stressful.
Risks and Complications of IUI Treatment?
- Mild spotting and cramping
- A rare chance for infection
- Multiple pregnancies are common in IUI treatment
- Missed cycles as eggs are only viable for Fertilization 12-24 hours after ovulation.
Success Rate of IUI Treatment
The average pregnancy rate for IUI treatment lies between 10-15%. Moreover, the success rates of IUI treatment are a variable factor influenced by age, the severity of infertility, and patients’ medical history. The Success rates for IUI treatment are lower than more complex fertility treatments such as IVF. Risaa IVF has the highest IUI success rate of 15-20%.
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