What is IUI Treatment
May 16, 2022
A small catheter is inserted into the uterus during an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure, and the sperm is placed directly into the uterus. This treatment aims to improve the chances of fertilisation by increasing the number of healthy sperm that reach the fallopian tubes when a woman is most fertile.
During natural conception, sperm travel through the vagina, the cervix, the uterus, and up to the fallopian tubes. With IUI, sperm are concentrated and then placed directly into the uterus, making them more likely to fertilise the egg. This process can help increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant in couples who have had difficulty conceiving.
IUI can be helpful for:
- Couples experiencing infertility due to medical conditions (e.g., endometriosis or low sperm count or quality).
- Couples with unexplained infertility.
- Same-sex female couples using donor sperm.
- Single women who wish to start a family with donor sperm.
IUI is a popular treatment option because it is a less invasive and lower-cost alternative to IVF.
How does IUI work?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment method where sperms are directly placed in the uterus when a woman is ovulating. It’s also sometimes called donor insemination, alternative insemination, or artificial insemination. This process reduces the time and distance the sperm must travel, making it easier for the eggs to fertilise.
Before you have the insemination procedure, you may take fertility medicines that may cause ovulation. Semen is collected from your partner or a donor. It goes through “sperm washing”, which collects a concentrated amount of healthy sperm from the semen.
The doctor then puts the sperm into your uterus. Pregnancy happens when a man’s sperm fertilises an egg and the fertilised egg implants in the lining of your uterus.
IUI treatment: What to expect
You may take fertility medications to help make your eggs mature and ready to be fertilised before undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Your doctor will do the insemination procedure during your ovulation period. Sometimes you will be given hormones that can cause ovulation. The fertility specialist will be able to determine when you are most likely to conceive and will take appropriate measures to increase your chances of conception.
Your partner or donor collects a semen sample at home or in the doctor’s clinic. The sperm is prepared for insemination by being washed to remove a concentrated amount of healthy sperm. Sperm washing also helps eliminate chemicals that can cause reactions in your uterus and make it harder to get pregnant. If you’re using donor sperm from a sperm bank, the sperm bank will usually send the doctor’s office sperm that has been “washed” and is ready for in vitro fertilisation.
The doctor will slide a thin, flexible tube through your cervix into your uterus during the IUI procedure. Then, they use a small needle to inject sperm directly into your uterus. Pregnancy happens when a sperm fertilises an egg, and the fertilised egg implants in the lining of your uterus.
The insemination process is done at a doctor’s office or a fertility clinic and typically takes about 5-10 minutes. It’s fast, and you don’t need anaesthesia. IUI is usually painless, but some people may experience mild cramping.
What are the risks of IUI?
There is a small chance of getting an infection following the IUI procedure. However, your doctor will use sterile instruments, so infection is infrequent.
If medications are used to induce ovulation, there is a risk of pregnancy with more than one baby. Since fertility medications can cause more than one egg to be released, they can also lead to multiple pregnancies. Your doctor will try to balance the amount and type of medication and bloodwork and ultrasound monitoring to prevent too many eggs from being released at one time.
Sometimes fertility medications can cause the ovaries to over-respond, leading to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Many eggs may be ready to be released at one time. This can lead to an enlarged ovary, abdominal fluid accumulation, and cramping. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can occasionally lead to fluid buildup in the chest and abdomen, kidney problems, blood clots, and ovary twisting.
If you are currently taking fertility medications for IUI and experience any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sudden weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- A sudden increase in abdominal size
Common side effects of IUI
Some people experience some mild side effects from fertility medications. The most common side effects after insemination are cramping and spotting. The process of IUI can be challenging both mentally and physically. Many couples or individuals struggling with infertility issues and seeking assisted reproductive technologies often experience depression. If you are feeling down or overwhelmed, talk to your healthcare provider so they can help you through the process.
People also ask
1. How long does IUI take to get pregnant?
About two weeks after your intrauterine insemination (IUI), you will take a blood test to see if you are pregnant. For most women, the two-week wait is the hardest part of the IUI cycle.
2. Is IUI treatment painful?
IUI is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require pain medication or anaesthesia. Patients can typically go home the same day. However, patients may experience a mild pinch sensation (similar to that experienced during a routine pap smear) and minor cramping as the catheter is passed through the cervix.
3. What are the chances of getting pregnant with IUI?
IUI can be helpful for couples who are struggling with unexplained infertility or women who have difficulty with cervical mucus. However, it’s not an excellent choice for women with scarred or blocked fallopian tubes. A woman has a 10 to 20 per cent chance of becoming pregnant with each IUI cycle. The more times you go through the cycle, the better your chances become.
4. How successful are IUI treatments?
Pregnancy can occur, but the success rate depends on where the blockage is on the blocked tube. The success rate of IUI is highest when the blockage is closest to the ovary. When the blockage is located close to the uterus, the success rate is approximately 38%.