Intrauterine insemination, most commonly known as IUI, is a common fertility treatment in which the semen of the male partner is directly transferred into the uterus of the female partner. Many couples struggling to conceive a baby can consider IUI as one of the best and viable fertility treatment options. IUI is considered as effective as IVF in several conditions of infertility but the treatment is comparatively much cheaper and less invasive than IVF. Hence, most women/ couples consider IUI before progressing with IVF and other expensive fertility treatments. IUI is also known as alternative insemination, artificial insemination, or donor insemination.
The infertility specialist may give medications that help the woman to ovulate by the time the treatment starts. Once the woman ovulates well enough to facilitate the treatment, the IUI specialist will place the sperm from the male partner directly into the woman’s uterus. To do this, the doctor, specifically a gynecologist or infertility specialist will use a catheter to open the cervix and place the sperm into the uterus. Basically, unlike natural reproduction, in this process of assisted reproduction, the sperm does not have to swim through the vagina and the cervix to reach the uterus.
Before deciding or settling for IUI, the infertility specialist will have to run a few diagnostic tests to determine the exact problem and decide the best line of treatment. Before beginning IUI, the doctor is likely to do the following/ any of the following tests:
1. Semen analysis – There could be several problems associated with the sperm of a male. To determine the exact, the IUI specialist will need to collect the sperm sample and send it to the lab in a clean container. The semen sample is then analyzed in the lab to find out what exactly is the problem.
2. Imaging tests – In several conditions, the male is suggested to undergo imaging tests such as MRI or ultrasounds of his genitals to find out if there are any underlying abnormalities with his organs.
3. Testicular biopsy – Testicular biopsy is yet another test to identify and determine abnormalities in the male reproductive system that might contribute to infertility. If the test shows any major abnormality, the couple might need to use donor sperm to get the treatment done.
4. Hormone testing – The hormone testing gives an estimate of the level of testosterone and other male hormones in the male.
5. Genetic testing – Genetic testing helps in determining if there is the presence of any genetic defect in the genitals of the male that is contributing to problems in conceiving for the couple.
IUI is an advanced but quite commonly performed infertility treatment. If done under the supervision of a trained infertility specialist, there are hardly any chances of any major complications during or after the procedure. But, there are also medical reports of patients experiencing the following complications during or after the IUI procedure.
Risk of multiple births – IUI is often associated with multiple births. Several medical reports suggest that women who undergo IUI conceive twins or more. This complication is limited not only to IUI but is associated with most infertility treatments. Multiple pregnancies increase the risk of premature delivery, miscarriages, low birth weight, preeclampsia etc.
Infections – In IUI, the doctor inserts a catheter through the vagina and the cervix of the woman. This can put the woman at risk of getting an infection in her vaginal canal. Mild cramping, pain, and discomfort are normal in IUI. But, if the procedure of implanting the sperm is not meticulously done, the woman may suffer spotting and bleeding, and severe pain after the procedure. The risk of the condition can be lowered by taking proper rest after the implantation.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – The fertility medicines taken during the course of the treatment may result in Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which is a common complication involved in infertility treatments including IUI. In this condition, the ovaries swell and leak fluid into the body, and produce more eggs than usual.
These are some of the major complications involved with IUI treatment. But other than these, IUI treatment can also cause the following side-effects:
For successful outcomes of IUI treatment, the woman/ couple will have to follow specific precautions. Your infertility specialist is likely to guide you on each step to increase your chances of conceiving successfully. Below-mentioned are some of the important steps that you need to do and prevent doing in order to ensure maximum success of your IUI treatment.
Do’s during IUI procedure
Here are a few steps that you should follow in order to increase the chances of your successful pregnancy:
Eat a healthy diet – After IUI or any other fertility treatment, it is important that you consume a healthy diet. To facilitate a healthy and successful pregnancy, a healthy or balanced diet is very important. Eating a healthy diet can provide all the necessary nutrients that are required during the journey of IUI. Foods rich in folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D are a must in the diet course of a woman who is planning to undergo or is undergoing IUI.
Take enough rest – We understand that any infertility treatment could be complex and may trigger a range of emotions making it hard for you to focus on anything or take proper rest and sleep. But you need to know that for the success of infertility treatment, it is extremely important to give the body the necessary amount of rest. Your body goes through a lot of changes during the course of infertility treatment. To help your body adapt to the changes and process the treatment, it is important to take proper rest after the treatment.
Stay positive – Stress is inevitable in IUI treatment. But, infertility specialists are of the opinion that stress can highly alter the success rate of pregnancy. Medical reports suggest that the more distressed a woman is during her pregnancy, the lower is her chances of pregnancy success. Stress increases the chance of premature delivery, low-birth-weight babies, and births with defects. Stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts can also alter your eating habits causing complications in your pregnancy journey. If you think your mind is occupied with negative thoughts and you are not being able to focus on your treatment, you may seek professional help. The goal of stress reduction and building up positive thoughts is not to eliminate but to minimize the triggers.
Take prescribed medications – To increase the chances of your pregnancy, the doctor would prescribe certain medications. Make sure that you take the medications without fail and consult your doctor if you face any trouble in between.
Don’ts during IUI treatment
Now that you are aware of what needs to be done, you should also know what you need to refrain from doing.
Avoid heavy lifting – Do not lift heavy weights if you are on IUI treatment. It is one of the most important things you need to avoid from the time you plan the treatment. Lifting heavy weights can cause cramps and damage your uterine lining.
Don’t take medicines without your doctor’s recommendations – Once your treatment begins, you need to stop taking medicines without the recommendation of your doctor. If your abdominal pain and cramps become unbearable, consult with your doctor instead of taking any pain medications directly from the pharmacy.
Do not smoke or drink – Smoking, drinking and drug abuse can cause complications during your pregnancy treatment. If you have the habit of smoking or drinking, you should quit it as soon as possible if you are planning to get pregnant.
IUI is a comprehensive procedure that helps couples dealing with infertility conceive a baby. There are multiple steps involved in the IUI procedure. The treatment often starts with medications that help stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs and ends with injecting processed sperm into the female’s uterus when she ovulates. The step-by-step procedure of IUI is explained below:
1. Doctor consultation and medications – This is the first step of the IUI procedure wherein the doctor diagnoses your health condition and gives you medications that can bring fruitful results. The doctor would help you with the best medicines and lifestyle habits and guide you on how to focus on your mental health before the procedure begins. The doctor would also advise you to give up on habits that can be hazardous to your health and cause complications in leading to safe pregnancy.
2. Tracking your egg production – If the woman has problems with ovulation, the doctor would recommend medication to amplify the egg production. The infertility specialist would give oral medicines to stimulate ovulation and then thoroughly monitor the egg production in the ovaries. The ovulation stimulation can also be done by injecting drugs into the female’s body. Oral medications are recommended to be taken for 8-12 days and may vary depending upon how the ovaries respond. On the other hand, injections are given in parts of the body that have a comparatively larger amount of fat such as the stomach.
3. Ultrasound and monitoring of the blood – Once the medications and ovarian stimulation injections start, the patient is called to the clinic/ hospital every 2-3 days wherein her egg development is monitored. To assess the development of the eggs, the doctor is likely to do hormone tests and ultrasounds. Tracking the ovulation helps the doctor to decide the best dates when you can begin your IUI treatment for the best possible results.
4. Sperm harvesting – For IUI treatment, the couple and the doctor may decide whether to use fresh sperm or frozen sperm. If the couple decides to use fresh sperm, the male partner or the donor will need to produce it at the fertility clinic by masturbating. In case the couple decides to use frozen, they can get in touch with any of the infertility treatment labs nearby. Frozen sperm is defrosted and then washed to get rid of the impurities before they are used for the treatment.
5. Insertion of sperm – Once the female ovulates and the sperm is washed out of all impurities and dirt, the doctor using a thin, flexible catheter implants the sperm into the uterus of the female partner. Unlike IVF, IUI does not involve any painful steps. However, the insertion of the catheter may cause the female to feel slight cramps and discomfort.
6. Pregnancy test – This is the last step of the IUI treatment wherein the doctor checks if the treatment has been successful or not. This test can be done two weeks after the sperm has been implanted in the uterus. If the pregnancy is not successful, the doctor might repeat the entire procedure or may suggest another line of treatment.
Myth 1 – IUI always leads to multiple pregnancies
Fact – Though this is a common complication in the case of IUI treatment, this is not always the case. Multiple pregnancies often result in cases where trigger shots are given to the patient to induce ovulation. There are records of IUI leading to twins, triplets, or quadruplets. But, medical records also suggest that IUI has been a successful fertility treatment and couples have conceived single children.
Myth 2 – A couple is infertile because there are problems with the woman.
Fact – Infertility is a reproductive problem. But it is not only a female’s reproductive problem. Almost one-third of the couples struggling with infertility are affected by male infertility. Another one-third struggle with the problem due to female infertility. The remaining one-third cases include infertility issues equally contributed by both the male and female partners. The rest of the cases include those in which the cause of infertility goes unnoticed.
Myth 3 – A man is fertile if he can ejaculate.
Fact – It is a common belief that if a man can ejaculate, he does not have an infertility issue. But the reality is much different. Ejaculation alone does not determine whether a male is infertile or infertile. There are several factors that determine if a male is fertile or not such as the quantity and quality of his sperm, the size and motility of the sperm, his overall health, and how well his sex organs functions.
Myth 4 – Age is not an important factor in IUI.
Fact – Age is an important determining factor in every assisted reproductive technique including IUI. Aging affects the chances of conception in women more than men. As a woman ages and crosses her 30s, the amount of eggs in her ovarian reserve drastically cuts down. As such, the chances of getting pregnant go lower. If a woman is above 35 years, there might be potential complications in her IUI treatment, IN many cases, the doctor might require to repeat the steps. If at all it does not work, the infertility doctor will plan another line of treatment for the couple.
You should consult an IUI specialist when you and your partner engage in unprotected sex for more than a year but fail to conceive. You may try on your own for as long as you want, but getting medical help without delay is the best decision. If you have irregular periods, ovulation troubles, or your partner has a problem ejaculating, you should seek guidance from an IVF expert. If you have a heavy thyroid, it can whack your pregnancy outcome. In that case, too, you may need to check with an infertility specialist.
Irrespective of the type, assisted reproductive techniques are critical and very sensitive treatments. You cannot step into just any clinic or approach any doctor and undergo the treatment. You need to do some groundwork, find out the best doctor, and make sure you are in the right hands. To get started, you can do the following:
A comparative analysis of the cycle fecundity rates associated with combined human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) versus either hMG or IUI alone
Cities Where We Treat Iui
Will IUI hurt?
For most women, IUI is a relatively painless fertility treatment. However, some women may find the insertion of the speculum to be a little uncomfortable if it is not lubricated. In very cases, the catheter might cause problems if the cervix of the woman is very narrow.
What is the success rate of IUI?
IUI is a common and effective assisted reproductive technique but there is no clear-cut success rate for the treatment. The success or failure of the treatment may depend upon the age of the woman, the lifestyle habits that the patient follows, and the expertise of the IUI specialist to a large extent.
How many days before IUI should you abstain from sex?
It usually should not be more than 72 hours since his last ejaculation to ensure the best motility. If the low sperm count is the reason for IUI, it is generally best to wait 48 hours between ejaculation and sperm collection.
Are there any restrictions after IUI?
There are no physical restrictions after IUI treatment. The patient can carry out daily activities without any problem. You might notice some spotting after the process, but that is normal. However, it is advised not to do any strenuous activities or heavy weightlifting during or post IUI treatment cycle.
The success rate typically depends on your age and the reason for getting IUI treatment.