What is intrauterine insemination?
The IUI procedure can treat a variety of infertility diagnoses, including low sperm count, endometriosis, and unexplained infertility. First, the male partner or donor provides a sperm sample that is cleaned and concentrated. Next, the woman visits the doctor’s office during ovulation, and the sperm sample is inserted directly into the uterus. If IUI is successful, the woman becomes pregnant.
1. Will IUI work?
Age plays a significant role in IUI success rates. For those under the age of 35, the procedure works about 13% of the time. This rate decreases to 3-9% once a woman is over 40. In some instances, the doctor may recommend using fertility drugs during IUI to increase the overall chance of success. Intrauterine insemination is unlikely to work when the male partner produces no sperm or when the woman has had both fallopian tubes removed.
2. Will it hurt?
IUI may be a little uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt. Some women describe it as feeling similar to a Pap smear. Some minor cramping and spotting might occur right after the insertion. No anesthesia is required during the procedure, and pain medication is usually unnecessary.
3. When to test?
Most women undergoing IUI are advised not to test for pregnancy at home. Instead, the fertility clinic will tell the patient precisely when the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) test should be done. Although some clinics may test slightly sooner, most doctors will have the patient come in for a pregnancy test 14 days after the IUI procedure.
4. Is IVF a better option?
The main difference between the two procedures involves where fertilization occurs. With IUI, the sperm and egg meet in the uterus. During IVF, fertilization occurs in a lab, and the resulting embryo is transferred back into the uterus. IVF also typically involves using fertility medication to control the woman’s cycle and increase the chances of success. IUI is thought to be less time-consuming than IVF and also less expensive. Both options can help grow a family, but the right one depends on a patient’s age, health, infertility diagnosis, and finances.
Information is power
When IUI is first recommended, patients may feel overwhelmed. However, knowing the right questions to ask can decrease anxiety and stress about this common procedure. Consider running through the above checklist with the doctor, and if any other questions arise, don’t hesitate to ask. Information can be powerful for women undergoing fertility treatments.