Intrauterine insemination is an assisted reproductive treatment that has helped many infertile couples achieve pregnancy. This procedure is an excellent treatment option because it is cost-effective and less invasive than other ART methods. However, patients should ensure they are good candidates for the procedure before they begin. IUI is recommended for women under 35 who have had trouble getting pregnant after a year of trying regular unprotected sex. It may also be a good choice for couples with unexplained fertility, male-factor infertility like low sperm count or poor sperm motility, or for those who want to use donor sperm. Read on to learn more about the IUI procedure, ideal candidates, and the keys to a successful IUI.
What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and How Does It Work?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a form of artificial insemination in which the sperm is washed and inserted directly into the uterus. This makes it easier for sperm to reach and fertilize the egg. The IUI treatment is usually performed during or a day after ovulation. IUI can be performed in two ways: in a natural cycle without fertility medicines or in a stimulated cycle with fertility drugs.
The IUI process is short, simple and similar to a Pap smear. During the IUI procedure, the patient lies on an exam table and puts her legs into stirrups. The fertility provider inserts a catheter containing a sample of washed and healthy sperm through the vagina into the uterus and pushes the sperm through the tube into the uterus.
How Many Sperm Are Needed for a Successful Intrauterine Insemination?
The number of motile sperm after washing the semen sample should be about 5 million or more for the IUI to be successful. If the total motile sperm count is below 1 to 5 million, success is unlikely.
What Makes a Good Candidate for IUI?
The purpose of intrauterine insemination treatment is to improve the odds of fertilization by increasing the number of healthy sperm that reach the fallopian tubes when the woman is most fertile. Candidates for IUI should be in good overall health. In terms of treating infertility, IUI is often recommended for patients who are diagnosed with the following:
- Unexplained infertility;
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS);
- Mild male-factor infertility;
- Cervical issues;
- Irregular ovulation;
- Semen allergy;
Who is a Good Candidate for IUI?
The patients should ensure they are good candidates for the IUI procedure before they begin. IUI requires:
- The ability to ovulate;
- Having at least one fallopian tube;
- Having a normal uterine cavity;
- The ability to produce some healthy sperm.
Who is Not a Good Candidate for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?
While IUI is beneficial for some patients with fertility problems, there are certain situations where it is not an ideal treatment option. This includes the following cases:
- Severe endometriosis;
- Severe male-factor infertility;
- Blocked the fallopian tubes;
- Medical history of pelvic adhesions.
For people who do not get success with IUI after three IUI attempts, other fertility treatments like IVF are recommended.
Read more: https://www.healthline.com/health/intrauterine-insemination-iui
IUI vs. IVF
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two of the most commonly used fertility treatment methods. The main difference between IUI and IVF treatments is how each is done. IVF is a multi-step process involving egg stimulation, retrieval, fertilization, and transfer, whereas an IUI injects sperm directly into a uterus. IUI is less expensive than IVF and is also a less invasive procedure. Therefore, it is often recommended as the first step. However, IVF has higher success rates.
Which is More Painful: IUI or IVF?
IUI is not painful. The procedure takes about five to 10 minutes and does not require anesthesia or painkillers. For most women, the pain is like that of a Pap smear.
Chance of Twins IUI vs. IVF
Natural IUI will not increase the risk of twins. However, the use of fertility medications makes IUI increase the likelihood of multiple pregnancies. The high risk of twins or a multiple in IUI is because IUI places sperm directly in the uterus, making it much easier for sperm to reach and fertilize released eggs.
Keys to a Successful IUI:
There are also other factors that can improve the chance of pregnancy in IUI, including the followings.
- Eat Healthy: The diet after IUI should include more protein and the foods like nuts, eggs, flax seeds and whole grains. Avoid taking soda, alcohol, raw animal products and low-fat dairy products.
- Start exercising: Moderate exercise is suitable for IUI. Light exercises can enhance blood flow to the uterus and other reproductive organs.
- Avoid Stress: Stress is the biggest threat after an IUI procedure. It can cause an imbalance in hormones and will affect the process of fertilization in the uterus.
- Have a healthy sleep pattern: Fertility experts recommend getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep. It improves physical and mental health and reduces stress. There is no need to sleep on the back after IUI, and patients can sleep in whatever position they like.
- Avoid Drinking and smoking: These have significant harmful effects on women’s health and can even cause abnormality in the child.
Conclusion: Is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Right for You?
As a whole, IUI is one of the most helpful methods of assisted reproductive technology. The best way to determine if IUI suits you is to see and consult a fertility provider. You should perform the necessary tests and analyses to learn about your best treatment options.