There are a variety of reasons a couple may find themselves struggling with infertility. No matter what the cause, not being able to conceive can leave you feeling anxious, uncertain and frustrated with your efforts of expanding your family. It can be taxing mentally, emotionally and even physically.
The good news is, the fertility journey can continue, and there are ways to help you reach your goal of parenthood. One of those methods is Intrauterine insemination (IUI) which can help you achieve fertilization. This fertility option is also more economically affordable and minimally invasive than some other fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Is IUI right for you?
You are likely a good candidate for this treatment when you don’t know why you aren’t conceiving naturally or when there is a low sperm count. It’s also good for women with cervical issues such as cervical mucus is too thick for the sperm to penetrate or scarring on the cervix. With the help of IUI, we can bypass these barriers altogether.
IUI is a good starting point when dealing with infertility issues, and if it doesn’t bring the desired results, you can always turn to other methods of fertility treatment. When having an IUI performed, we can use your partner’s sperm or donor sperm. Women with mild endometriosis, couples with erectile or ejaculation problems, same-sex couple or single woman call all turn to intrauterine insemination when trying to conceive. Donor sperm is a useful option for those wanting to avoid passing on a hereditary defect from the sperm.
On the other hand, IUI isn’t helpful for women with certain other issues. For example, if you have moderate to severe endometriosis, have had both of your fallopian tubes blocked or taken out, struggle with recurrent pelvic infections or have severe fallopian tube disease. A certain number of sperm are required for the IUI procedure and therefore men who produce lower sperm counts would need to pursue in vitro fertilization or consider using donor sperm.
What Affects the IUI Success Rate
Depending on various factors, the outcome can be affected by age, the cause of your infertility, and whether fertility drugs are being used. The goal is to achieve the same chance of success as those trying to conceive naturally. Success rates typically go down for women over 40, as well as women you haven’t been able to get pregnant after three IUI cycles.
What IUI Looks Like
Before the treatment, we will need to collect a semen sample (preferably a concentrated dose) so we can wash and separate the sperm from the semen. If you are a woman, you might be placed on ovulation-stimulating medications. You will be monitored through hormonal or ultrasound testing to determine when your eggs have matured, allowing the IUI to be performed while you are most fertile. Much like a pap smear. A catheter will be inserted into the vagina where it will be taken up through the cervix so the sperm can successfully enter the fallopian tubes. If all goes well, a mature egg will be fertilized.
Implantation typically takes anywhere from six to 12 days, and then we will watch to see if pregnancy occurs. We can spot the signs with the help of an ultrasound and progesterone levels tested.
If you are thinking about beginning fertility treatments, you will want to take good care of yourself to optimize your overall health. Lifestyle changes to consider include eating healthy and exercising to lose excess weight, give up smoking and avoiding alcohol. These steps will support any fertility treatments you may begin, including IUI. Our board-certified reproductive specialists are here to help you on your fertility journey. Call today for any questions or concerns you may have about conception!