Facts about IUI Side Effects: What You Need to Know

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a common assistive reproductive therapy modality that is used to facilitate pregnancy. In the Philippines, IUI is a popular means of insemination performed when attempts using natural methods do not yield successful results.

As with any medical procedure, there may be associated side effects with this form of treatment. Many women experience slight pain during the procedure, and some may even experience mild cramping. However, as compared to other forms of therapy, the procedure is relatively painless, and more serious side effects, such as severe pain, iatrogenic injury and infections are quite rare.

When side effects do occur in the context of intrauterine insemination, they are usually caused by medications administered to induce fertility. These drugs are the hormones that stimulate follicular maturation and ovulation, as well as maintaining and facilitating the pregnancy to carry to term.

At the start of an IUI cycle, fertility drugs are usually prescribed to increase the chances of conception. These medications include follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and chorionic gonadotropin alfa. These are all administered via injection and may be given during days 1-11 of the follicular phase of the patient’s menstrual cycle. After ovulation, progesterone may be given to maintain pregnancy until the placenta has developed the ability to produce its own progesterone.

Since these hormones are given through exogenous (i.e. outside the body) sources, they may cause several side effects, which may include the following:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • hot flashes
  • nausea,
  • headaches
  • mastitis
  • visual disturbances
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • pelvic discomfort
  • bloating
  • swollen, painful ovaries, or ovarian cysts

These side effects are usually mild, and often disappear upon cessation of taking the medication. Of course, it is important to notify your doctor if you develop any symptoms during the course of treatment.

The risk of multiple gestation in other words twins, triplets or multiples of a higher order is associated with IUI, and is fairly small, ranging from 10% to 30%. This is a side effect of fertility medications, and not the procedure proper. Multiple pregnancies are usually considered good news, or an unintended yet welcome surprise for couples struggling to get pregnant. It would seem that in the Philippines infertility rates would decrease as a result of this phenomenon. However, multiple pregnancies come with risks, such as birth complications, preterm delivery, low birth weight, developmental problems, and preeclampsia. It is important to discuss the risk of multiple pregnancy with your doctor when you first consult for IUI treatment.