Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the commonly used artificial insemination treatments for treating infertility. The IUI process is carried out by preparing the sperm and placing it directly into the womb or uterus using a catheter during the ovulation or in combination with fertility drugs. In a normal pregnancy, the sperm have to reach the fallopian tubes from the vagina through the cervix and uterus and join the waiting egg for fertilization.
The likelihood of pregnancy using the IUI process increases in those couples with fertility problems for the chances of becoming pregnant are higher with the sperm positioned very close to the egg for fertilization.
When Should You Go For Intrauterine Insemination Treatment?
When compared to other fertility treatments, IUI is noninvasive and is preferred by those couples who have:
- Unexplained infertility: A situation when your doctor could not find anything wrong in you from getting pregnant. Unexplained infertility may be owing to various reasons such as lifestyle changes and the IVF treatment for 3 or 6 cycles. In such a case, IUI is generally recommended, along with ovulation induction.
- Donor sperm: IUI is the most sought-after method for pregnancy for women who have to use a donor sperm. There are certified labs that provide frozen sperm specimens to use after thawing them.
- Male factor infertility: If your male partner’s semen on analysis shows a low sperm count, an abnormal shape and size and weak motility, IUI is the best treatment method to overcome any or some of the problems. In IUI, a high-quality sperm is chosen and prepared for fertilizing the egg.
- Mild endometriosis: For this situation, the ideal treatment is to develop high-quality eggs through medications and undergo IUI.
- Ovulatory factor infertility: The women with ovulation problems owing to hormone imbalance, which is called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or primary ovarian insufficiency, have the ovary produces insufficient or no eggs. With the IUI treatment, they can help become pregnant.
- Cervical factor infertility: Some cervical issues can cause infertility. For instance, fibroids, tumors or benign polyps, which are commonly found in women, can affect implantation or block the fallopian tubes. Similarly, inflammation of endometriosis scarring can affect pregnancy, as well as uterine abnormalities can also cause infertility. With IUI, you can have the sperm directly placed in the uterus bypassing the cervix to help the egg fertilize.
- Avoid passing on genetic defects: Where a male partner has a genetic defect, the couple would naturally try to avoid passing it on to the child by undergoing the IUI procedure.
- Semen allergy: In some rare cases, the woman partner would have swelling and burning in the vagina because of an allergy caused by the proteins in her partner’s semen. IUI in such a case is the best option for pregnancy if the sensitivity is severe. The preparation of the semen in the IUI process removes most proteins and then, they are inserted.
Also, Read: IUI with Fertility Drugs
What Is the Step-By-Step Procedure of IUI?
The intrauterine insemination process starts with a medical evaluation of the couples. A semen analysis is primarily conducted for men, while for women, it is Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) tests to check the function of the ovary and egg supply. The other steps include:
- Stimulate egg growth: The woman partner has to undergo medications, either oral or injectable, to induce the ovaries to produce eggs and mature them.
- Monitor the egg development: Next, she has to visit the hospital every 2-3 days to do ultrasounds to monitor the ovaries and development of the eggs, as well as have blood tests to assess the hormone levels.
- Ovulation induction: The patient then receives a trigger shot to cause ovulation on the maturity of the eggs.
- Process the sperm sample: A sperm sample is collected from the male partner and processed in the laboratory to remove the substances and debris in the sperm by ‘washing’ and causing the sperm to be high concentrated.
- Insemination process: Once the sperm specimen is ready, it is injected into the uterus of the woman partner using a thin catheter. The insemination process is sometimes done two times in a cycle if the doctor recommends.
- Support: The patient needs to follow up through a number of visits to the clinic after the ovulation to check the progesterone levels and then, have blood tests after the pregnancy is confirmed.
What Are the Success Rates of IUI?
The success rates of IUI depends on the number of cycles one would go for. Nevertheless, studies related to it show that the women with one IUI cycle have a chance of 10-20 percent to become pregnant. This shows that the more the number of cycles, the higher the chances of women becoming pregnant. For instance, those women with 3 cycles or 6 cycles are 80 percent likely to become pregnant.
However, there are some aspects such as the woman partner’s age, sperm sample, percentage of motility sperm and fallopian tubes condition that decide the IUI process success rates.
Also, Read: IUI for Male Factor Infertility
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