How Does IUI Work?
Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a treatment for fertility that involves placing healthy sperm cells in the female partner's uterus to induce fertilization. The goal of this treatment is to better the chances of conceiving by increasing the number of sperm cells that reach the fallopian tubes.
IUI is more commonly known as artificial insemination and it is one of the recommended treatments for an infertile couple to bear a child. Compared to IVF, the IUI process is less expensive and less invasive as well. The process simply provides the sperm cells a boost, after which the cells reach to the egg and cause fertilization.
Who Benefits from IUI?
For couples who have been facing difficulty getting pregnant, IUI could be the most effective and least invasive solution. During the natural process of conception, the sperm reaches the fallopian tubes by traveling through the vagina, into the cervix and the uterus after ejaculation.
In the procedure involved in IUI, the sperms are washed and concentrated to increase the chances of fertilization and inserted directly into the uterus. This helps the cells to be closer to the egg and increase the chances.
IUI can be performed with the sperm cells of the partner or of a donor. It is most commonly used in the following scenarios.
- Unexplained fertility
- Ovulatory disorders such as PCOS
- Endometriosis in its initial stage
- Borderline low sperm count or decreased motility
- Cervix or cervical mucus related issues
- Ejaculation or erection difficulties
Special Cases Where IUI Can Come to Aid
IUI with anonymous donor sperms can also come to aid for couples of the same sex, or for a single woman who wishes to conceive. It is also a highly useful process for couples who are affected by a genetic defect and do not wish to pass it on to the offspring.
What to Expect
IUI can be performed without additional medications if performed during the ovulation period of the woman's cycle. If required it may also be done with the help of ovarian stimulation to mature the ovaries to release one or more eggs to increase chances of pregnancy.
After the required blood work, ultrasounds and medications are completed and the ovulation period has reached, the process is carried out. IUI is a quick process that is also painless and does not require anaesthetics. The process can be done on an exam table and most women experience no discomfort while few can experience mild cramping or vaginal bleeding.
A pregnancy test can be taken two weeks after the process has been completed. The success rate of the process depends on various factors including age, health condition and other fertility concerns.