IUI or intrauterine insemination, is one of the fertility treatments that directly place the sperm into a woman’s uterus. There is a significant difference between a natural conception and IUI. In natural conception, the sperm travels from the vagina into the uterus through the cervix. Still, it is different in the case of IUI. The sperms are much closer when following this procedure because the sperm is directly placed into the uterus after it is washed and concentrated.

This process can help couples who are facing trouble getting pregnant. IUI is a much safe, painless, and less-expensive treatment that can enhance fertility compared to other more costly and invasive treatments. Many couples opt for IUI before going for In-Vitro fertilization or IVF. As per records, many couples needed only IUI for a successful pregnancy.

IUI is performed either with the donor sperm or male partner’s sperm. IUI is mostly performed in scenarios like:

  • Sperm motility decreased
  • Single woman’s wish to conceive
  • Low sperm count
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Problems with cervical or cervix mucus
  • Mild endometriosis
  • Difficulties with erection or ejaculation
  • Couples who are of same-sex wishing to conceive
  • The couple who does not want to pass the genetic defects to the child from the male partner

This procedure may not be successful when:

  • Acute fallopian tube disease
  • Moderate to acute endometriosis
  • Both the fallopian tubes are removed, or they are blocked
  • Infections in the pelvic
  • Male infertility or produces low or no sperm

IVF may be helpful in the scenario where IUI is not recommended.

How does Intrauterine insemination or IUI work?

Intrauterine insemination or IUI is also known as donor insemination, artificial insemination, or alternative insemination. It involves the procedure of placing the sperm cells directly into the uterus when you are expected to ovulate to help the sperms get close to the eggs. This reduces the distance and time the sperm has to travel to the uterus, making the process easier for fertilizing the egg.

Fertility medicines are prescribed to you before the insemination procedure to stimulate ovulation. The semen sample is collected from the donor or your partner. After the collection, it goes through a process of “sperm washing” containing the strenuous amount of sperms that are healthy from the semen.

The doctor places the sperm directly into the uterus, and pregnancy is expected to happen if the sperm fertilizes into the egg. The egg that has fertilized is implanted in the uterus lining.

Intrauterine insemination is an easy and uncomplicated procedure that is not so costly when compared to various fertility treatments. This procedure tends to increase the chance of getting pregnant but may not work the same for everyone. The body structure and functions are not the same for everyone, so there is no assurance that this procedure will work like magic.

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What are your expectations from Intrauterine insemination or IUI?

Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a non-invasive and much painless procedure. Doctors sometimes conduct this process without any prior medications and in the “natural cycle.” A woman in this procedure ovulates naturally, and the doctor places the sperm in the uterus at that time.

Ovarian stimulation is also combined with IUI. Doctors may sometimes use hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin), FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), and clomiphene citrate (Clomid) to help the ovaries to mature and finally release one egg or many eggs. The chances of getting pregnant increase in the case of ovulation with more than an egg.

Each of the doctors will opt for their specific instructions for this procedure. Doctors will follow a typical timeline for this procedure, which may include:

  • Doctors will conduct several tests, ultrasounds, and give several medication instructions.
  • It would be best if you started taking medications while on your ongoing periods.
  • After one week of starting the medication, you will be suggested to go for blood tests and ultrasound.
  • Depending on the result of the tests performed, doctors will be confident when you will ovulate, and you return to the clinic with your partner (if not opting for donor sperm). This usually happens on day ten to day sixteen after the medication is started.
  • The male partner has to provide a sample of the semen on the day the procedure will be conducted, or doctors will opt for the donor’s sperm.
  • After collection, the sperm is sent to a lab where the process of washing starts. Washing the sperm helps to distinguish debris and seminal fluid from the sperm, which results in a very concentrated sperm and will not irritate the uterus.

Steps involved in IUI

As stated above, IUI is a straightforward and painless procedure and does not require anesthesia.

  • Your doctor will open the vagina with a speculum that will help visualize the cervix after you lie down on the exam table.
  • The sperm will pass through the cervix and finally placed in the uterus using a thin and long tube.
  • You need to lie on the exam table for the next twenty to thirty minutes after the insemination.
  • The majority of the women experience no discomfort during the procedure. But women experience very light cramps on the uterus, or sometimes vaginal bleeding also occurs, but that is a rare case.
  • Some women may go through second time insemination.
  • If pregnancy is achieved through this procedure or there is an early pregnancy stage, doctors prescribe progesterone. While in the case of others, they do not need progesterone.
  • A pregnancy test is supposed to be performed after two weeks of this procedure.

The bottom line

IUI is not a painful procedure and does not involve the use of invasive tools. This procedure helps to achieve pregnancy by merely placing the sperm to the uterus lining. This only helps to decrease the distance traveled by the sperm to reach the uterus. This procedure also helps to achieve pregnancy to single mothers with the help of a donor’s sperm.

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Dr. Jay Mehta Fertility and IVF Specialist In Mumbai

Dr. Jay Mehta

Fertility and IVF Specialist

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Dr. Jay Mehta is the Scientific Director of Shree IVF Clinic. He is a well-known Fertility and IVF Specialist and also among few doctors in the country who specializes in Embryology and Andrology.

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