The Uphill Climb Of Infertility

The process of overcoming infertility is an uphill climb and can take an emotional toll. In some cases, a fertility specialist will recommend IUI. IUI is one of the first assisted reproductive technology (ART) forms to treat infertility. Some patients do not get the desired results after one cycle, even with IUI. At some point, the patient must decide on more advanced fertility treatments. Deciding on when IUI should stop and in vitro fertilization (IVF) should begin.

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What Is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure for treating infertility through artificial insemination. First, sperm is washed, concentrated, and placed directly into the uterus through a catheter. The process is timed with ovulation when the ovaries release one or more eggs. The doctor will assign the woman hormone medication to increase ovulation in most cases. The IUI procedure takes a few minutes and shouldn’t hurt. After IUI, there’s a 2-week wait to check for pregnancy.

How much is too much?

On average, IUI has a 10%-20% success rate per cycle. The success improves as the rounds increase. Statistics show 88% of successful patients need 3-4 cycles and about 95% after 6 cycles, though age affects this number. Doctors recommend women under 35 undergo 3-6 rounds of IUI before considering IVF. For women 40 and over, 3 IUI cycles work best. IUI may not be best for all couples but is a good starting point for some instances. These cases include hormonal imbalances, male-factor infertility, or unexplained infertility.

Advancing from IUI

IUI typically fails because of poor-quality sperm that cannot reach the fallopian tubes in time for fertilization. Moving to IVF quickly after the recommended cycles improves the chances of pregnancy. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most commonly used assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF involves joining eggs and sperm in a laboratory and transferring the resulting embryos into the womb. IVF is recommended for couples facing severe male infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, diminished ovarian reserve, or recurrent miscarriage.

Weighing your ART options

Since inception, IVF has helped millions of hopeful parents and continues to have a 37% success rate on average. Over the years, other techniques have been added to IVF to improve the success rate. These ART options include:

  • Assisted Hatching helps implantation by opening the outer covering of the embryo.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) injects healthy sperm directly into a mature egg.
  • In-vitro maturation (IVM), immature eggs are collected from a woman’s ovaries during a natural cycle and matured in the lab.

Other tests like pre-implantation genetic screening make sure the healthiest embryos ate available for implantation. The fertility clinic will provide recommendations based on the reproductive challenge.

Make a quick transition from IUI to IVF

In some instances of infertility, IUI is a practical option to improve the chances of pregnancy. Almost all cases need more than one cycle of IUI. However, there comes a time when IUI won’t be enough. The doctor will recommend, on average, between 3-6 cycles of IUI. The faster couples move from IUI to IVF, the greater the chances of success. Speak with a fertility specialist for more advice on the best available options.

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