Intrauterine insemination is an assisted reproductive treatment that has helped millions of infertile couples worldwide achieve pregnancy and have healthy babies. During the procedure, the reproductive fertility specialist injects healthy, viable sperm directly into the female’s uterus.
Intrauterine insemination is an attractive option for many couples because it is cost effective and less invasive than other methods of fertility treatment. Although fertility medications and hormones are not always required with IUI, your specialist may advise you to begin treatment with clomid (clomiphene citrate), gonadotropins, or other fertility pills before starting an IUI cycle.
If you have been experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, are using donor sperm to conceive, intrauterine insemination may be a viable choice as a treatment option.
The procedure begins when the male provides a sample of his sperm to an andrology lab, where the sperm is washed, processed, and centrifuged, allowing only the healthiest,most mobile, and most viable sperm access to fertilize the egg. At the same time, the fertility specialist will then carefully monitor your menstrual cycle as it approaches ovulation, in order to perfectly gauge when to start the procedure of injecting the washed sperm into your uterus. This highly coordinated process of preparing the sperm, timing insemination accurately, and directly depositing sperm into the uterus aims to maximize your chances of conceiving.
Your fertility specialist will have to make sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure before you begin. This requires that your fallopian tubes are patent (open), and not blocked. Blockage may occur as a result of post-operative adhesions, previous infections, or congenital defects. Fallopian tube patency is essential for a successful pregnancy to occur with IUI.The specialist may also conduct a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is used to determine whether there are any blockages in your tubes that might prevent your eggs from passing from the fallopian tubes into the uterus.
Your doctor will also determine whether you have adequate ovarian reserve. If you have enough healthy follicles and eggs in your ovaries and your hormone levels are within a typical, healthy range, then you may be a good candidate for intrauterine insemination.
If you have healthy fallopian tubes and ovaries, yet you are found to have problems with your cervical mucus, you may be a good candidate for IUI. Since the procedure allows are able to bypass the cervix and directly enter into the uterus, cervical mucus issues are no longer a factor.
Your partner may also benefit from IUI. If he has a low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or inadequate sperm motility, the sperm washing procedure increases the chances of conception.
It is important to consider that there are a few subgroups of women who are not good candidates for IUI. Women with severe endometriosis or poor ovarian reserve are unlikely to benefit from the procedure at all. Additionally, the success of the procedure decreases with age, and many clinics will use age 40 as a cutoff for IUI.