Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is aninfertility treatment in which the sperm is directly placed inside a woman’s uterus to promote fertilization.IUI is also known as ‘donor insemination’ or ‘artificial insemination’.
IUI increases the chances of the number of healthy sperms that reach the fallopian tubes. Though IUI will help in the sperms reaching the eggs, the fertilization still has to occur on its own.
IUI is less invasive and less costly than IVF.
When is IUI Treatment Recommended?
Intrauterine insemination is used most often in couples who have:
Donor sperm: IUI can be used for women who need to use donor sperm to get pregnant.
Unexplained infertility: IUI is often performed as a first treatment along with ovulation-inducing medications.
Endometriosis-related infertility: IUI is often performed as a first treatment along withmedications to obtain a good-quality egg.
Mild male factor infertility (subfertility): The semen analysis shows below-average sperm concentration, weak movement (motility) of sperm, or abnormalities in sperm size and shape (morphology). IUI helps in the separation of highly motile, normal sperm from those of lower quality.
Cervical factor infertility: Cervix is the opening between your vagina and uterus. Mucus produced by the cervix helps the sperm to travel from your vagina to the fallopian tubes. The sperm may not be able to pass through the cervix, if the mucus produced by it is too thick or there are structural abnormalities (e.g, scarring and thickening of the cervical walls). In IUI, the sperm is directly deposited inside the uterus thereby bypassing these hindrances.
Ovulatory factor infertility: IUI may be performed in women who have an absence of ovulation or a reduced number of eggs.
Semen allergy: Rarely, a woman could be allergic to the proteins in her partner’s semen. Ejaculation into the vagina causes redness, burning and swelling. A condom can protect from the symptoms butwill also prevent pregnancy. In IUI, many proteins that cause the allergy are removed from the semen before introducing it in the uterus.
How is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) procedure/technique performed?
IUI can be synced with your normal ovulation cycle without using medication. It can also be done along with fertility medications which increasing the production of multiple eggs thereby increasing the chances of conception.
- You may have a blood test during menstruation, an ultrasound, and receive medications.
- After a week of taking medications, an ultrasound and blood test will be done. You may ovulate 10-15 days after taking the medications.
- Your partner semen sample will be collected on the day of the procedure or well before and stored.
- Sperms will be washed.
- IUI does not require anesthesia.
- The sperms will be inserted into the uterus using a long and thin catheter.
- You will need to continue lying in a reclined position for about thirty minutes.
- You will be asked to take a pregnancy test two weeks after the IUI procedure.
Are there any risks associated with IUI?
Slight discomfort, mild cramping, spotting or vaginal bleeding can be observed during the process.
Multiple pregnancies can occur if fertility medications are being taken along with IUI. You doctor will adjust the doses of such medications. Consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms;
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Severe abdominal pain or pain in the pelvic area
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Bloating of the abdomen
What are the advantages of IUI?
Compared to IVF, less medications are needed in IUI. also less invasive and less costly than IVF.
What are the disadvantages of IUI?
- Addresses few infertility issues
- Not as effective as IVF, in successful pregnancy or in decreasing the chances of miscarriages
- Multiple pregnancies can lead to high-risk pregnancy
The success rate of IUI ranges from 10%-20% deepening on your age, causes of infertility, etc. you may need to opt for IVF if success is not achieved through IUI.