Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a medical method of placing sperm directly into a woman's uterus to treat infertility. The procedure's objective is to boost the chances of sperm reaching the fallopian tubes. Herein, concentrated and highly motile sperm are directly placed into the uterus during the ovary release period. It is done to ensure one or more eggs get fertilized. Herein, the procedure is performed to ensure increased chances of the woman getting pregnant.
Intra Uterine Insemination: Causes
Intrauterine insemination is typically suggested for couples who are facing infertility issues. Several factors determine a couple's ability to get pregnant. IUI is performed under the following conditions:
Cervical Mucus: The cervix forms the lower end of the uterus, which acts as an opening between the uterus and vagina. Furthermore, mucus is produced by the cervix around the period of ovulation. It creates an ideal environment for sperm to move from the vagina to the fallopian tubes. However, when the cervix mucus turns too thick, it can obstruct the free movement of sperm, thereby preventing it from reaching the egg.
Ovulatory infertility: It is the most sought technique conducted by women who have faced infertility issues caused due to ovulation problems such as the absence of ovulation or reduced egg release.
Subfertility: Also known as mild male factor infertility is caused when a male has below-average semen concentration, abnormal sperm shape and size (morphology) or weak sperm movement.
Unexplained fertility: IUI is usually performed as the first treatment for unexplained infertility in addition to ovulation-inducing medications.
Infertility related to Endometriosis: It is performed as a combined method with medications to obtain a good-quality egg.
Donor sperm: IUI is used for women who require donor sperm to get pregnant. Herein frozen donor sperms are obtained from certified labs before the IUI process.
Semen allergy: In rare conditions, allergy to proteins in the semen leads to infertility issues. Herein, ejaculation into the vagina can lead to sensations like redness, swelling and burning. For situations where the sensitivity is severe, IUI proves to be an effective method to ensure pregnancy.
Scarring of the cervix: Cervical stenosis is a situation that causes scarring of a woman's cervix, preventing the sperm from reaching the uterus through the vagina. It is typical for women who have experienced cervix surgery such as cone biopsy, cryosurgery, Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), etc.)
Intra Uterine Insemination: Preparation
Semen sample preparation: It includes collecting semen samples or a vial of frozen donor sperm that is thawed and prepared. The sperm will be washed to separate the highly active and normal sperms from lower quality sperms.
Monitoring ovulation: The timing of IUI plays a crucial role in the process. The doctor will suggest using an at-home predictor kit for urine ovulation to detect when the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) is at its peak. The doctor may also perform imaging techniques to visualize the egg and ovaries' growth.
Driving ovulation: Injecting human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or a few medications ensure the woman ovulates one or more eggs in time.
Determining procedure: Once the ovulation is detected, the doctor will perform the IUI procedure.
Intrauterine Insemination: Procedure
The IUI procedure is performed either in the doctor's office or clinic. Although the procedure takes hardly a minute or two without needing medications or pain relievers; the entire time will span 15 to 20 minutes.
The doctor will make the patient lie on the examination table and tie stirrups to the legs and the care provider will insert a speculum inside the vagina, similar to a pap test. A detailed procedure includes:
- Attaching a vial containing sample sperm to the end of the thin and long tube (catheter)
- The catheter is inserted into the vagina through the cervical opening and travels till the uterus
- The sperm sample is pushed through the tube inside the uterus
- The nurse or doctor will remove the catheter, followed by the speculum.
- Post the procedure; the doctor will ask the patient to lie on their back for some time.
Intrauterine insemination: Risks
IUI is a safe procedure with a low possibility of complications. However, a few risks include:
- Spotting: Placing the catheter in the uterus may often cause low spotting or minor vaginal bleeding
- Infection: There is a low risk of developing infections after the process
- Multiple pregnancies: IUI is not associated with the risk of multiple pregnancies, such as twins, triplets, etc. However, the risk increases if it is coordinated with ovulation-inducing medications
Intrauterine insemination: Results
It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks from the IUI procedure to carry out the at-home pregnancy test. However, it is to be noted that testing early may procedure false results:
False positive: In conditions of using ovulation-inducing medication like HCG may indicate pregnancy due to its presence in the body.
False negative: If the pregnancy hormones are not at a measurable level, it may reflect a negative result.
Intrauterine insemination is a safe procedure to increase the chance of pregnancy by directly inseminating sperm into the uterus. When a woman fails to get pregnant even after the test, the doctor will retry IUI for three or six months for better chances or try other treatments. Connect with expert doctors at Apollo Fertility at JP Nagar, Bengaluru, for better guidance. Call 1800-500-4424 to book appointments
Often women may experience slight discomfort or cramps during or post the procedure. However, the process in itself is painless.
3 to 6 cycles are recommended before changing to more advanced treatments.
The success rate depends on factors like the cause of infertility, the woman's age, and the number of cycles attempted. However, the average success rate is 10-20% per cycle.
Yes, IUI can be used with frozen sperm that is thawed and prepared like fresh sperm.
The IUI cost varies based on location, clinic and insurance coverage.