General Overview of Infertility
Infertility, defined as being unable to become pregnant even though you have unprotected sex frequently for at least a year, affects 10 – 15 percent of couples in this country.
Although most couples will eventually succeed in becoming pregnant with or without treatment, for those who don’t, there exist many safe and effective assisted reproductive treatments (ART) that improve the chances significantly.
ART covers a broad spectrum of procedures, depending on the cause of infertility. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of many.
What Is Intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a painless straightforward assisted reproductive treatment (ART) in which sperm is deposited directly into the uterus and conception is allowed to occur normally. With IUI, the sperm has a shorter “trip,” and is more likely to be able to by-pass obstacles, thus increasing the chances of successful fertilization.
When is Intrauterine Insemination Used?
Usually the first line of treatment for infertility, other than fertility drugs, IUI is most often used in cases of couples who have the following:
- Unexplained infertility
- Donor sperm
- Mild male subfertility (sperm that has below-average concentration, weak movement, atypical shape/size)
- Endometriosis (tissue lining of the uterus grows outside)
- Thick cervical mucus impeding sperm from reaching the uterus
- Allergy to male’s semen (rare)
What is Involved in Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?
Though a relatively simple procedure (the office visit in which it is done requiring less than 30 minutes), intrauterine insemination demands thorough planning beforehand.
The first step is that a semen sample is provided: this may be at the physician’s office, or frozen and prepared when thawed.
Because sperm contains chemicals that may cause pain for the woman when inserted into the uterus, it is “washed” in a lab beforehand. This process also separates quality sperm from the less desirable and produces a highly concentrated sample, improving the probability of fertilization.
The timing of IUI is critical, as is monitoring ovulation. The monitoring may be done with an over-the-counter ovulation kit or with imaging that allows the physician a clear picture of the ovaries and egg growth.
The physical process of the procedure is straightforward, much like the experience of having a Pap examination. A vial containing a sample of healthy sperm is inserted into the vagina through the opening of the cervix and deposited into the uterus via a length of thin, flexible tube.
Afterward, performing daily activities is permitted, although there may be light spotting for a day or two.
Waiting at least two weeks after the IUI before taking a home pregnancy test is advised to avoid inaccurate results. A blood test after four weeks will be more precise.
Intrauterine Insemination Risks
As with most medical procedures, IUI carries risks; however, odds for serious difficulties are low, with typically only the following mild ones:
- Spotting following the procedure
- Multiple pregnancy due to ovulation-inducing medication
ReUnite Rx is proud to assist couples and individuals undergoing fertility treatments with our need-based assistance program. Active or veteran military members automatically receive a 25% discount with our assistance program. To learn more, visit ReUnite Rx.