Intrauterine insemination is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that can be used to treat infertility. However, unlike IVF, with IUI, fertilization occurs inside the body. The procedure inserts sperm directly into the uterus and is timed with ovulation to optimize the potential for the formation of an embryo. Compared to other fertility treatments, IUI can be less expensive, especially if donor sperm or ovulation stimulation medications aren’t needed. To better determine if the process is right, consider asking the following questions.
1. Who is a good candidate?
Not every individual is a good candidate for IUI treatment. Women considering IUI should not have any physical blockages in the fallopian tubes or impediments like severe endometriosis. A woman without fallopian tubes would not be able to use the procedure. By contrast, couples with poor sperm motility or quantity could benefit from IUI. Likewise, cervical issues, unexplained fertility, and even low egg counts aren’t reasons that would disqualify candidates.
2. Are hormones necessary?
The answer will depend on the underlying concerns found during a fertility evaluation. However, not all couples engaging in IUI need hormone stimulation. Unless poor ovarian reserve or difficulty in tracking ovulation is discovered, a woman won’t typically be required to take ovulation medication. Do note that IUI carries the risk of multiple births when stimulation is required since the hormone treatments are intended to make the ovaries release several eggs simultaneously during a single cycle.
3. How does IUI differ from IVF?
Intrauterine insemination can be an effective fertility treatment when the concerns that would require fertilization outside the body aren’t present. The most significant difference between the treatments is that IUI allows for fertilization to occur inside the body in the fallopian tubes. Additionally, IUI tends to be a slightly shorter process since an egg retrieval is not required. IUI is also less invasive, so repeat cycles are easier to pursue should the first attempt not work. IVF is usually more expensive and almost always requires hormonal treatments, while the alternative doesn’t unless underlying ovulatory conditions exist.
Choosing the right method
Ultimately, age and underlying health concerns, especially regarding reproductive organ blockage, are the biggest determiners of whether a woman is a good candidate for intrauterine insemination. Along with being significantly cheaper, IUI can be a great option that’s less invasive and may not even require hormones. However, timing is essential, and people need to understand that the procedure must still be coordinated alongside ovulation for optimal results.