At The Fertility Institute, we offer a host of fertility treatments that can help patients in Louisiana and our neighboring states start the family of their dreams. For many people, the intrauterine insemination process (IUI) will be their first attempt at a fertility treatment. Here’s what you can expect if you choose this fertility approach.
Am I a good candidate for IUI?
In simplest terms, the IUI process involves placing sperm directly into the uterus during ovulation. Many people start with IUI because it’s a good first-line fertility treatment. It’s more affordable than some other fertility treatments, and it’s also less invasive.
IUI can be especially helpful for those with sperm count or motility issues, cervical mucus irregularities, or cervical scar tissue. IUI is also a good option for single women or same-sex couples wishing to conceive.
At The Fertility Institute, we start by determining if IUI will be ideal for you and your circumstances. During this initial consultation, your fertility specialist will discuss:
- The cause of the infertility and/or fertility wishes
- Your age
- Your viability for treatment
- Any other health conditions
- Previous fertility treatments you’ve attempted (if applicable)
You can learn more about IUI benefits and those who are the best candidates in our earlier post. During your initial consultation, your doctor will talk openly about IUI success rates. While it helps many couples conceive, it’s not always the right treatment approach for your unique health history and set of circumstances. Your doctor can also propose alternatives that could help you become pregnant if IUI isn’t a good fit.
How does the intrauterine insemination process work?
Depending on the cause of your fertility challenges, you may attempt IUI with or without fertility drugs. Your fertility doctor will discuss the benefits of each approach, but in general, medicated IUI allows multiple follicles to mature to improve your odds of pregnancy.
After, you’ll monitor your hormone levels and ovulation cycle with your fertility team. A kit may be used to help determine when you are most fertile during the month. You may also undergo blood tests and ultrasounds during this time. You’ll likely receive an injection of hormones to better time and trigger ovulation as proper timing can enhance the success of the treatment.
Once that’s done, you’ll move into the intrauterine insemination process itself. This is what you can expect.
The sperm wash
A process known as sperm washing helps increase your potential success with the IUI process.
Once a sperm sample has been taken from your partner, or a sperm donor has been selected, the sperm is carefully purified and concentrated. This allows the high-quality sperm to be used rather than lower-quality sperm. This process only takes a few hours and is often done the morning before the IUI procedure.
The intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure
The actual IUI procedure is performed at your fertility clinic and generally only requires about 15 to 20 minutes. After verifying that the sperm vial is correct, you’ll get started.
While lying down on an examination table, you’ll place your legs in stirrups. Your fertility specialist will place a speculum into your vagina. They’ll then insert a catheter into the vagina and through the cervix into your uterus. A vial that contains the washed sperm is at the other end of this catheter. The sperm is then pushed through the catheter into the uterus, and then the catheter is removed.
The IUI procedure isn’t painful for most women. You may feel slight pressure, a pinch, or some uncomfortable cramping. After lying down for a few more minutes, you can then get up and move around normally. Light spotting may occur for a day or two after IUI, which is normal.
Always talk to your doctor about any other post-procedure restrictions you should follow. In general, though, IUI is a fairly low-risk procedure with few side effects.
When will I know if IUI worked?
Generally, you’ll find out the results of your IUI treatment in two weeks. You’ll visit your clinic for a pregnancy test or take an at-home test to see if you are pregnant. You may undergo a blood test with your doctor to officially confirm that you are pregnant.
Intrauterine insemination may not always work on the first attempt, so it’s important to be realistic with your expectations. Many fertility specialists encourage patients to attempt three to four cycles of treatment before moving to other treatments.
If IUI doesn’t work for you, there are many other fertility treatment options that can help. In vitro fertilization is often your next option. You can learn more about this treatment here.
Learn more at The Fertility Institute
If you would like to learn more about all of your options for advanced fertility treatments and starting the family that you have always wanted, contact our team of fertility specialists today at The Fertility Institute. We welcome patients from across Louisiana and our neighboring states. We look forward to discussing your options with you in much greater detail.