This article gives detailed answers to questions below (please click for answers):
- What is IUI?
- When is IUI used?
- What is IUI procedure?
- What is the success rate of IUI and what factors influence IUI success rate?
- How much does IUI cost?
- What are the risks of IUI?
- What are the things to take care of after IUI?
What is IUI?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a process in which sperm collected from normal ejaculate of male partner, sperm retrieved from reproductive tract of male partner or donated sperm are directly placed into a woman’s uterus, close to the time of her ovulation. Doing so would increase chances of fertilization, since a concentrate of high quality sperm is placed into the uterus and it is relatively easier for sperm to travel from the uterus to fallopian tube and fertilize the egg, rather than travelling all the way from vagina to fallopian tube through the cervix.
When is IUI used?
IUI can be performed to treat any of the following scenarios:
- female partner has healthy fallopian tubes (without any blocks or damages) but suffers from cervical mucus defect, endometriosis or sperm allergy
- unexplained infertility
What is IUI procedure?
IUI cannot be performed in women who have blocked fallopian tubes, since blocks can prevent sperm from reaching the egg or prevent movement of fertilized egg. Hence, first step in IUI treatment is to check whether fallopian tubes are healthy. This is done using methods such as hysterosalpingogram (HSG), falloposcopy or laparoscopy. If at least one of the two fallopian tubes is healthy (and both ovaries are functioning), IUI can be performed. In this case, IUI can be carried out only when ovulation occurs from the ovary that is on the same side as the open tube.
IUI can be performed with or without administration of fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation (fertility drugs are usually administered for women who suffer from ovulatory disorders). Ovulation is tracked using blood tests, urine tests, ovulation predictor kits or ultrasound scans and insemination (placing sperm in uterus) is timed to coincide with ovulation. Sperm collected from normal ejaculate of male partner, sperm retrieved from reproductive tract of male partner or donated sperm can be used for IUI. Sperm are first washed and concentrated (this would take 30-60 minutes). These highly motile and concentrated sperm are then placed into the woman’s uterus close to the time of ovulation using a thin, flexible catheter (tube) inserted through the cervix. This is usually a simple, painless procedure which takes 15 to 20 minutes (in some cases, this procedure can cause mild cramps similar to menstrual pain). The individual under treatment can leave home after a short rest and will be advised to take pregnancy tests in 2 weeks time.
The video below shows a 3D animation of IUI procedure.
What is the success rate of IUI and what factors influence IUI success rate?
Success of IUI depends on factors such as age and health of woman (women under the age of 35 usually have higher success rates), quality of sperm, sperm count, timing of insemination etc. On an average, IUI has a success rate ranging from 10 – 20% per cycle. In case an IUI do not succeed, the process can be repeated or the fertility specialist might recommend for another treatment method.
How much does IUI cost?
Cost of IUI can vary with the location of clinic, success rates of clinic and expertise of treatment facility. In United States, IUI costs around 800 dollars. There can be additional costs for fertility drugs and donor sperm (if they are used). Discuss in advance with the fertility clinic about total costs involved for an IUI cycle.
Insurance plans may or may not cover infertility treatments. It is advisable to read the insurance plan carefully and get the help of an independent insurance advisor to find out whether the insurance plan covers IUI treatment. Click infertility insurance laws for more information on 15 states in the United States that require insurance coverage for infertility treatments.
What are the risks of IUI?
IUI is a relatively simple and safe procedure. It usually has very low risks. Some of the risks of IUI are:
Infection in reproductive tract
If fertility drugs are used in an IUI treatment, there are chances of occurrence of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome or over stimulation of ovaries (by fertility drugs) and multiple pregnancy (pregnancy with two or more foetuses). Fertility drugs stimulate production of multiple ovaries. This would increase chances of fertilization of multiple eggs and formation of multiple embryos, resulting in multiple pregnancy. Multiple pregnancy can cause high blood pressure and diabetes in mother, premature labor and babies having low birth weight.
What are the things to take care of after IUI?
The IUI procedure usually takes only 15 to 20 minutes. The individual under treatment can leave home after a short rest. Stay relaxed and return to normal day to day activities. There are chances of light spotting and mild cramps after IUI. If the spotting is heavy or in case of any doubts, it is advisable to consult the doctor. Avoid strenuous physical activities, smoking, drinking and use of recreational drugs. Pregnancy tests can be performed in two weeks time after IUI. In case an IUI do not succeed, the process can be repeated or the fertility specialist might recommend for another treatment method.
Please visit the page: What isIVF? for information on IVF.