A Helpful Step In Fertility Treatment
Sometimes, starting or growing a family is easier said than done. Unfortunately, many Americans have trouble getting pregnant and need some medical support. For those with infertility, the only solution is Assisted Reproductive Technology, ART, a series of treatments that work around the reasons for infertility. One of the first steps of ART is IUI.
What is IUI?
IUI is also known as intrauterine insemination. The goal of IUI is to improve the chances of conception. A fertility clinic or reproductive clinic achieves this by placing sperm directly into the woman’s uterus. The clinic will time the insemination with the woman’s ovulation. In some cases, the woman will take hormone medication to increase the chances of pregnancy. The sperm sample is washed in a saline solution before insemination. The selected sample is then inserted directly into the woman’s uterus through a catheter at the doctor’s office or clinic.
Who should use IUI?
Once the procedure is completed, the doctor will order a pregnancy test in 2 weeks. If the process fails, the clinic may try multiple cycles. IUI works best for male infertility issues such as low sperm count, poor motility, or erectile dysfunction. In cases where fertility is unexplained, IUI is the first treatment option. Another great thing about IUI is that the procedure is not only limited to people with fertility troubles. Single women and members of the LGBTQ+ community can start family planning with IUI.
How successful is IUI?
For a healthy fertile couple, the chances of getting pregnant naturally are about 20%. That figure is almost non-existent for infertile couples. However, for couples under 35, statistics show that IUI has a 10% success rate in the first cycle. This figure can go up to 20%, depending on factors like if mom used hormone medication. And as you increase the number of cycles, the success rate goes up. However, that 10% to 20% success rate is based on an ideal scenario.
Age affects IUI’s success
Fertility is not a linear problem as there are so many factors that affect reproduction. These same factors also impact the success of an IUI. For instance, studies show that age is one of the most significant pregnancy indicators for IUI success.
- Women between 35 and 39 had a 10% chance of pregnancy per cycle.
- Between ages 40-42, women have an 8% pregnancy rate.
- Women over 43 have a less than 5% chance of success.
- These figures can increase or decrease based on the woman or man’s general reproductive health.
- Other conditions that impact the success rate
Some conditions may also impact the success rate. For example, women with PCOS have a lower fertility chance unless IUI is combined with hormone medication. Endometrium lining thickness, the woman’s response to hormone medication, and lifestyle factors also impact success. Sperm health also plays a significant role, as motility of at least 30% is recommended for IUI. Luckily, some changes, like weight management and diet, can improve the chances of success.
Get to your first IUI cycle
Despite the challenges, IUI is a practical first step in fertility treatment. Most cases require more than one cycle, but the success rates increase with each attempt. However, doctors usually have a cutoff point with the number of cycles attempted. At this point, the doctor will suggest IVF or ICSI, which can significantly improve the chances of pregnancy. If getting pregnant is challenging, speak with a fertility clinic or reproductive specialist and start with IUI.