Intrauterine Insemination

December 14, 2007

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is often the first step in fertility treatment (possibly in combination with fertility drugs) for couples who are struggling to get pregnant. This treatment is considered less intense and less invasive than In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In IUI, the aim is to have fertilization take place inside the woman’s body. The IUI procedure involves taking a sample of sperm from the male partner, “washing” and concentrating the sperm and then inserting it into the female partner’s uterus via a long, thin tube inserted through the vagina and cervix.

IUI And Clomid

IUI may be carried out in combination with your natural ovulation cycle or with ovulation-inducing drugs such as Clomid. If your fertility specialist starts you on IUI treatment, he or she will decide whether or not drugs are appropriate, depending on the underlying causes of your fertility problems.

IUI Preparation

Whether or not you take Clomid, the first stage in the IUI process requires you to monitor your ovulation. This is because the IUI procedure should be carried out on the day after you ovulate, in order to have the best chance of success. Your fertility specialist will help you track your cycle and may recommend that you purchase and use an ovulation predictor kit. (These kits test for hormones in your urine or saliva which indicate where you are in your cycle.) If you are taking Clomid, your fertility doctor will probably carry out ultrasound exams to determine whether or not you are ovulating.

While you are tracking your ovulation, your partner may be told to avoid ejaculation for two days prior to the anticipated day of the procedure (“storing up” the semen in this way may help to improve the quality of the sperm).

On The Day

On the day of the IUI procedure (once your fertility doctor is sure you’ve just ovulated), you’ll be brought into the hospital or fertility clinic as an outpatient (unless there are exceptional circumstances which necessitate an overnight stay). Your partner will be asked to provide a semen sample. After his semen has been washed and his higher quality sperm separated off for use in the procedure, you’ll be asked to put on a hospital gown and sit in the type of chair you’ll recognize from the gynecologist’s office, with your legs in stirrups. Then the fertility doctor will use a speculum covered with lubricant to open up your vagina and cervix. He’ll pass a very thin, long tube called a catheter through the vagina and cervix, into the uterus. Then he’ll use a syringe to push the sperm through the catheter and into the uterus. The idea is that the sperm cells are given a head start on their journey to the fallopian tubes, where (hopefully) they will fertilize an egg. The IUI procedure usually takes no more than 20 minutes to carry out. You’ll probably be told to lie on your back for a short while after the procedure has been completed. Most patients are able to go directly back to work or otherwise get on with their day.

IUI Success Rate

IUI has a success rate (of fertilization) of approximately 15 % per cycle of treatment. Younger women tend to have a better chance of getting pregnant via IUI. Most fertility specialists recommend that a couple goes through no more than six cycles of IUI treatment. Thereafter they would probably be encouraged to consider IVF and/or ICSI.

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