Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Uses, Risks, and Success Rates
Intrauterine Insemination or IUI is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the amount of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes, and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
IUI provides the sperm with an advantage, by allowing it to have a head start. However, this treatment still requires the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. This procedure is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
When is IUI Used?
The most common reasons for the IUI treatment are low sperm count or decreased sperm mobility.
Although, IUI may be selected as a fertility treatment for any of the following conditions as well:
• Unexplained infertility
• A hostile cervical condition, including cervical mucus problems
• Cervical scar tissue from past procedures, which may hinder the sperm’s ability to enter the uterus
• Ejaculation dysfunction
IUI is Not Recommended for the Following Patients:
• Women who have a severe condition within the fallopian tubes
• Women with a history of pelvic infections
• Women with moderate to severe endometriosis
How Does IUI Work?
Before Intrauterine Insemination, ovulation-stimulating medications may be used, in which case careful monitoring will be necessary to determine when the eggs are mature. The IUI procedure will then be performed around the time of ovulation, typically about 24-36 hours after the surge in LH hormone that indicates ovulation will occur soon. A semen sample will be washed by the lab, to separate the semen from the seminal fluid.
A catheter will then be used to insert the sperm directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus, thus increasing the possibility of conception. The IUI procedure takes only a few minutes, and involves minimal discomfort. The next step onwards is to watch for signs and symptoms of pregnancy.