You or someone you know is about to go through an intrauterine insemination (IUI) because becoming a parent is not as easy for some people as it is others. In fact, current research states that 1:8 women have difficulty getting pregnant. That means that one out of eight women in your circle is suffering from some form of infertility and are probably going through fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination.
What is Intrauterine Insemination?
An IUI is a method of fertility treatment, where “washed” sperm is inserted into the uterus to increase the number of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes in anticipation of increasing the chances of fertilizing the egg.
Who uses IUI?
Intrauterine insemination can be used for many different reasons, including the following:
- Unexplained infertility
- Cervical mucous issues or hostile cervix
- Cervical scar tissue from past procedures which may hinder the sperms’ ability to enter the uterus
- Low sperm count or decreased motility
Who Cannot Have an IUI?
- Women with severely damaged fallopian tubes
- Women with a history of pelvic infections
- Women with moderate to severe endometriosis
What to Expect During an IUI Cycle
Fertility cycles consist of lots of monitoring which includes blood work and sonograms. These cycles usually begin on cycle day three (CD3) of your menstrual cycle. This is where baseline measurements of your uterine lining and ovaries, and your hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH)).
Although IUI cycles can be natural (non-medicated), it is more favorable to do a medicated cycle with the use of follicle stimulating hormones (Clomid or Follistim) to increase the number of follicles produced during the cycle. More follicles mean more eggs, which can increase your chances of getting pregnant. Medicated IUI cycles mean more doctor visits, blood work, and transvaginal ultrasounds to monitor follicle growth and count, and time the insemination to coincide perfectly with ovulation. Although you are being monitored by the doctor every few days, it is also good to check for signs of ovulation using ovulation testing kit.
Ovulation is usually “triggered” with an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the evening. IUIs are usually scheduled within the next 12-36 hours since the “trigger shot” induces ovulation within that timeframe.
After abstaining for at least 72-hours, the morning of the IUI, your partner or donor will produce a sperm sample that will be “washed”. This usually takes anywhere from 30-minutes to two hours. The sperm is then injected into the uterus through a catheter. The doctor should have you wait for at least 10-minutes before getting up, and then you are done.
Because the insemination is timed with ovulation, and eggs can only be fertilized for 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, timing is everything.
Do IUIs hurt?
You may feel a little discomfort, cramping, and bloat after the intrauterine insemination, but generally, they should not hurt. You may also find that you will spot, which is normal.
What Happens After the Intrauterine Insemination?
After your IUI you should go about your day as normal. Your doctor may prescribe progesterone vaginal inserts for use three days post-IUI. Progesterone helps the body prepare for and maintain a pregnancy should one occur. He/she may also ask you to return in 7 days for a progesterone blood test, and in 14 days for a pregnancy blood test (HCG beta) since implantation generally takes place 6-12 days after ovulation.