What is IUI?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a common assisted reproductive technique that aims to improve the chances of conception for individuals and couples facing fertility challenges. This procedure involves introducing prepared sperm directly into the uterus, increasing the likelihood of successful fertilization. Because IUI is less invasive than IVF, it may be an appropriate, more affordable first approach for some patients before trying IVF.
Who is a candidate for IUI?
- Mild Fertility Issues: IUI is often recommended for individuals with mild male factor infertility, cervical issues, or unexplained infertility.
- Ovulatory Disorders: Women with irregular or absent ovulation may benefit from IUI, as it ensures the presence of sperm at the right time.
- Single Women and Same-Sex Couples: IUI offers a pathway to parenthood for single women and same-sex couples by utilizing donor sperm.
Patients who are suspected or confirmed to have structural or anatomical issues, such as problems with fallopian tubes, may not be good candidates for IUI. A comprehensive fertility evaluation can determine your candidacy for IUI.
What is the process of IUI?
Step 1: Ovulation Monitoring
Before beginning the IUI process, the woman’s menstrual cycle is closely monitored to predict ovulation. Monitoring involves tracking hormone levels and using ultrasound to observe the growth of follicles (egg-containing sacs) in the ovaries.
Step 2: Sperm Preparation
On the day of the anticipated ovulation, the male partner’s or donor’s sperm is collected. The collected sperm undergoes a process called sperm washing, which removes impurities, increases sperm concentration, and selects the healthiest sperm.
Step 3: Timing the Insemination
The IUI procedure is timed to coincide with ovulation, which maximizes the chances of sperm encountering the egg. The exact timing is crucial for successful fertilization.
Step 4: Insertion of Sperm
The prepared sperm is introduced into the uterus using a thin, flexible catheter. This catheter is inserted through the cervix, bypassing the cervix and placing the sperm closer to the fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs.
Step 5: Rest and Monitoring
Following the insemination, the woman typically rests for a short period before leaving the clinic. The healthcare team may provide guidelines for activity levels and any restrictions.
Step 6: Pregnancy Testing
Approximately two weeks after the IUI procedure, a pregnancy test is conducted to determine if conception has occurred. If the test is positive, it indicates a successful pregnancy.
When should IUI be performed?
IUI can be performed in coordination with a female patient’s natural cycle or with assistance from ovulation-inducing medications. If the patient does not have regular ovulation cycles, prescribed medication will likely play a role in inducing ovulation so that IUI can be performed successfully. For some patients, hormone injections may also be recommended to trigger ovulation; in which case, the insemination would be performed approximately 24-48 hours later. A doctor will perform ultrasound scans to pinpoint the peak time of ovulation to indicate when the insemination should happen.
How successful is IUI?
IUI success rates vary based on numerous factors, such as age, fertility history and pre-existing issues, and the quality of sperm used. In general, the rate of successful IUI outcomes is lower than those of in vitro fertilization (IVF); however, due to the non-invasive and affordable nature of the procedure, many couples and individuals choose IUI as a first approach method to their fertility treatment plan.
What are the risks of IUI?
IUI is generally a safe procedure with minimal risks. However, there is a slight risk of infection (1 in 10,000) or discomfort during the procedure.
If your procedure involves the use of ovulation hormones or medications to induce ovulation, there is also a slight risk (~1%) of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which causes the female body to become overstimulated by ovulation hormones, resulting in mild to moderate pain or discomfort.
Occasionally, multiple egg follicles may develop during IUI treatment, resulting in a multiple pregnancy. Our fertility specialist team will closely monitor your ovulation, IUI cycles and follicle development via ultrasound or recommend additional blood testing or medication adjustments as needed to reduce the likelihood of complications.
How many cycles of IUI are recommended?
The number of recommended cycles varies based on individual circumstances. Some couples and individuals experience a successful pregnancy after just one cycle of IUI. However, each individual’s scenario is different, and some patients require multiple rounds of IUI or alternative treatment methods to render a positive pregnancy test. Our fertility specialists will discuss the appropriate approach for your treatment plan based on your situation.
Can I do IUI with donor sperm?
Yes, IUI is a commonly-used fertility treatment method for same-sex couples or single women who are trying to start or grow their families using donor sperm. Learn more about Donor Sperm IUI.
How will I know if IUI was successful?
After the IUI procedure, a pregnancy test is taken to determine if conception has occurred. This testing window occurs approximately 2 weeks after insemination. In the event of a negative pregnancy test result, your fertility specialist may recommend additional IUI cycles or an alternative treatment approach, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).