Intrauterine Inseminations, IUI, as it is commonly called, is a minimally invasive, relatively low-risk method of treating infertility through an insemination. This procedure uses sperm that has been washed, concentrated, and inserted into a woman’s uterus with a thin catheter to result in fertilization. IUI is used to help the sperm more likely to make it to the fallopian tube and fertilize an egg for a normal pregnancy outcome.
Couples often turn to intrauterine insemination for the following reasons:
-You and your partner have unexplained infertility.
-You have mild endometriosis
-Your partner has male factor infertility – less than optimal sperm concentration for conception, irregularities in the shape and size of the sperm, or slow-moving sperm.
-You are using a donor sperm to conceive.
-You have cervical factor infertility – your cervical mucus is too thin, thick, or sticky which hinders the sperm’s ability to reach the egg.
IUI is an outpatient procedure performed in our fertility center. To prepare the sperm for insemination, it will be collected and washed. Sperm washing removes sperm cells that are dead, slow-moving, and to remove chemicals such as prostaglandins, mucus, and white blood cells which can hamper fertilization or cause other problems if inserted into the uterus.
Stimulation medications may be used to enhance ovulation and encourage more than egg to mature. Because the timing of the IUI procedure is important to coordinate with ovulation, monitoring is crucial. Ovulation predictor kits may be used at home or more accurately ultrasound scans allow your provider to view the growing follicles and watch for signs of impending ovulation. Once the follicles reach a certain size indicating the eggs are maturing, a trigger shot is given that induces the ovulation process. The IUI procedure is performed 24-36 hours later. This allows for the sperm to be present as the egg makes its way down the fallopian tube so fertilization can take place.
The IUI procedure is fairly brief, simple and safe. You can expect to be in the office for 15-20 minutes. The procedure is similar to a female exam. A speculum will be placed and a catheter inserted into the cervix to deliver washed, healthy sperm into your uterus. Once that is done, the catheter and speculum are taken out. You will typically relax for an additional 10-15 minutes after the procedure. Normal activity can then be resumed. Intercourse is recommended to take place 12 hours after the IUI and again 24 hours after the procedure.
The day after your IUI procedure you will start Progesterone suppositories and will return within two weeks for a pregnancy blood test to measure progesterone, estrogen, and hCG levels.
IUI is not recommended if you have severe endometriosis, have had multiple pelvic infections or severe fallopian tube disorders.
If you would like to learn more about IUI and if it is a good choice for you, please reach out to Utah Fertility Center at 801-785-5100. Our fertility specialists are happy to help you on your conception journey.