14 Apr Why Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is Often a First Choice for Couples Facing Infertility
The National Institutes of Health indicates that one in eight couples experience infertility. In general, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. (Six months for women 35 years and older).
To get pregnant:
- A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries.
- A man’s sperm must join with the egg along the way (fertilize).
- The fertilized egg must go through a fallopian toward the uterus (womb).
- The embryo must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Couples struggling with infertility have options available to help them achieve a successful pregnancy, including intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Peter McGovern, MD, board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist and OB/GYN and co-founder of University Reproductive Associates (URA) states, “Intrauterine insemination, the most common method within a broader category known as artificial insemination refers to the placement of sperm directly into the uterus. Through any of several procedures done in a laboratory, the sperm inserted into the uterus are separated from the seminal fluid that conducts them such that they represent the most concentrated solution of sperm with the highest motility to help enable best results.”
While in vitro fertilization (IVF) involves the surgical extraction of eggs from a woman’s ovary, the combination of those eggs with sperm in the lab outside the body, and the re-insertion of fertilized eggs directly into the uterus to enable development of an embryo, IUI attempts to achieve fertilization within the body.
“IUI is an office procedure that uses a tiny flexible tube to inject the most motile sperm directly into the uterine cavity, which serves to get a larger number of viable sperm into the uterus to fertilize an egg and hopefully achieve pregnancy,” McGovern further said. “This less-invasive and relatively painless procedure takes just a couple of minutes and is typically performed for three to four reproductive cycles.”
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an infertility treatment that is called artificial insemination. In this procedure, specially prepared sperm are inserted into the woman’s uterus. Sometimes the woman is also treated with medicines that stimulate ovulation before IUI.
IUI is often used to treat:
- Mild male factor infertility.
- Early-stage endometriosis.
- Ovulation induction.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Couples with unexplained infertility.
Many times, it is advised for couples try IUI first, then proceed to IVF if IUI doesn’t work. IUI is often prescribed first because it’s less expensive, involves less complications, and it is less invasive. For women under 35, FSMG doctors may recommend doing 3 rounds of IUI before considering IVF, but this recommendation can go up to 6 cycles in carefully selected patients.
Patients also choose IUI because insurance may cover IUI but not IVF, making it a better financial decision for many. To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.