IUI: The Guide on This Fertility Treatment

IUI: The Guide on This Fertility Treatment

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment where a doctor inserts sperm directly into the uterus during ovulation. IUI places a large number of sperm into the uterus, bypassing the vagina and cervix. IUI is most often used by couples trying to get pregnant or individuals or couples using a sperm donor.

IUI is not the ideal treatment for all couples facing infertility. Below are a few reasons individuals or couples might be candidates for IUI.

Unexplained infertility. Having problems getting pregnant, but can’t figure out why? You might be diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Individuals with unexplained infertility and open fallopian tubes are particularly good candidates for IUI.

Sperm Donor. Whether you’re in a same-sex relationship or want to have a baby without a partner, IUI is great for people who want to use a sperm donor.

Endometriosis-related Infertility. Females who have minimal to mild endometriosis with common pelvic anatomy are candidates for IUI. According to a 2014 research review, endometriosis could cause 5 to 15 percent of infertility cases. Another 2012 research review said it could even be up to 50 percent.

Male-Factor Infertility. A male partner with mild to moderate male-factor infertility is a good candidate for IUI. But if sperm count is too low or sperm abnormalities too severe, experts say that IUI has limited use.

Cervical-factor Infertility. This means sperm can’t swim through cervical mucus (basically discharge from the cervix) to meet the egg. Sometimes it’s because the mucus is either too thick or thin. IUI helps increase pregnancy odds by bypassing this mucus.

Couples who are unable to or choose to avoid intercourse. Medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction or vaginismus or HIV are situations when IUI is helpful.

The success rate of IUI depends on a few factors, including:

  • age (less effective for people above 40, especially after 3 cycles)
  • the underlying infertility diagnosis
  • whether fertility drugs are used

What is the IUI Process?

The goal of IUI is to place a concentrated number of sperm within the uterine cavity. This decreases the distance and amount of time it takes for sperm to reach the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg and potentially result in pregnancy.

The insemination process can be completed in an office setting in a matter of minutes. The procedure begins quite similarly to a gynecologic exam. The doctor will use a speculum to view the patient’s cervix and insert a narrow catheter (tube) through the cervix into the uterus to inject the prepared sperm.

Some women experience light cramping or mild spotting after the procedure. There is no need to rest after the procedure. The patient can resume normal activity as soon as it is complete.

Risks and Side Effects of IUI

The risks associated with the insemination procedure are relatively small.

They include minor abdominal cramping and light spotting for the woman post-procedure. The risk of infection from IUI is very low.

IUI can be done with a natural ovulation cycle or ovulation induction with medication. There are risks associated with the use of fertility medications, such as an increased risk of multiple pregnancies (twins or more). Multiple pregnancies present a higher risk to both mom and baby. This includes an increased risk of obstetric complications, preterm labor, premature birth, and physical or developmental delays for the child.

To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.

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