IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) Explained
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is used for several different infertility issues. The process places sperm directly into the woman’s uterus, giving the sperm a better chance at meeting a mature egg – and increasing a couple’s chance of conceiving.
Who Needs IUI?
Also called artificial insemination, IUI is most commonly used for:
· Couples when the male is diagnosed with low sperm count or poor sperm morphology and/or motility (how the sperm are shaped and how they move)
· Cervical factor infertility factors (infertility caused by an inability for healthy sperm to get into and through the cervix – ranging from overly-thick cervical mucous, scarring, pH level that kills sperm, etc.)
· Unexplained infertility
· Men with erectile and/or ejaculatory dysfunction
IUI is NOT recommended in cases where women have:
· Moderate to severe endometriosis
· A history of pelvic infections
· Severe disease of the fallopian tubes
An accurate infertility diagnosis is key before determining whether IUI is the right fertility treatment for you. When IUI is the recommended fertility treatment option, success rates are about 20% per cycle.
What Happens During IUI?
While IUI can be timed to sync with a woman’s natural ovulation cycle, relying on a single egg to be fertilized, most couples opt to have more than one egg present to increase their chances of IUI success.
Fertility meds are used to stimulate the release of multiple eggs
Therefore, the doctor will prescribe fertility medications to stimulate the release of multiple eggs. Women are typically prescribed Clomid, an oral fertility medication that is gentle on the body and only stimulates the release of two or three eggs. However, certain scenarios may cause your doctor to recommend injectable fertility medication.
You’ll be carefully monitored during the fertility medication cycle, as we evaluate LH levels and keep an eye on the fallopian tubes via ultrasound to see how the egg follicles respond. Typically, we schedule the sperm transfer about 24- to 36-hours after an LH surge, indicating ovulation is eminent.
The sperm sample is washed and prepared
If you’re using donor sperm, the sample is thawed to sync with your cycle. Otherwise, a semen specimen is collected at home (in a special container, with specific instructions provided by the fertility center).
The specimen is carefully washed in the lab to separate the sperm from the seminal fluid. If sperm morphology and/or motility are an issue, the lab selects the healthiest sperm for the procedure.
Sperm are transferred into the uterus
Once the sperm are ready, the entire transfer takes just a few minutes. You’ll lay on the table and a speculum will be inserted to hold the vagina open. The doctor uses a needle-less syringe and catheter (flexible tube) to aspirate the concentrated sperm sample. The syringe is placed thru the cervix and into the uterus, where the sperm are released into the uterine cavity.
The IUI procedure causes minimal discomfort, if any, and carries a low risk of complications. Once the procedure is complete, you can await the results of your (hopefully!) positive pregnancy test in a couple of weeks.
Have questions about your fertility or believe IUI is the next fertility treatment option for you? Contact us here at the Fertility Center of Dallas to schedule a consultation.
image: K_E_N @ shutterstock.com