Infertility affects over 186 million people on a global scale and in half of the cases, male infertility is a major contribution to the course. However, with access to Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ARTs) in most parts of the world, it has become possible to overcome this hurdle. The most common type of ART suggested by doctors is Intrauterine insemination (IUI), which most people also know as Artificial Insemination (AI).
Intrauterine Insemination is a simple fertility procedure, that involves the placement of sperms inside a woman’s uterus to assist in fertilization. Yet most people are not prepared for it due to less knowledge about the techniques involved in the procedure. Hence, to have a better understanding of IUI here are some things that will help you prepare for the procedure.
Prior to carrying out the IUI treatment, your doctor will recommend medications to stimulate ovulation. During this phase, you will be carefully monitored to determine the maturity of the eggs. Other than that, a patient may also be given an injection of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) to assist in the ovulation of one or more eggs at the right time.
Next, a sample of your partner’s semen or a thawed vial of frozen donor sperm will be prepared. The sample is washed to separate the highly active sperm from the low-quality sperm or any no-sperm elements, which could cause negative reactions in a woman’s body, thus interfering with fertilization. When this small amount of highly concentrated sperm sample is used, the chances of pregnancy increases.
The IUI procedure is usually done 1 day or two days after the ovulation is detected. The entire procedure takes over 15-20 minutes and will be carried out either in a hospital or your doctor’s office. Below is a brief of how the procedure is done.
- You will be asked to lie on an exam table and put your legs into stirrups.
- A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. You might feel slight pain like during a Pap test.
- Your doctor or nurse will attach a vial of the healthy sperm sample to one end of a catheter, a long, thin, and flexible tube, which will be inserted into your vagina through the cervical opening and into the uterus.
- The sperm sample is then pushed into the uterus, after which the catheter and then speculum is removed.
- After the procedure is done you will be asked to lie still on your back for a while after which you can get dressed and carry on with your normal daily activities.
- You may experience some light spotting for a day or two after the procedure.
It is always best to wait for at least two weeks before taking a home pregnancy test since early test might produce false results. After two weeks, your doctor might ask you to return with the home pregnancy results. A blood test might be taken to detect pregnancy hormones after fertilization. In case you do not get pregnant in the first attempt, the same procedure can be repeated after a recommended period of three to six months.
IUI Side Effects
Patients will experience some side-effects from the IUI Treatment, mainly due to the fertility drugs. Some of these side-effects are:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Nausea, headaches or visual disturbances
- Swollen and painful ovaries, signalling ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
- Pelvic discomfort, breast tenderness, or bloating
- Ovarian cysts
- Swelling or a rash around the injection site