Women seeking to become pregnant can explore many different fertility treatments that may help them.
While almost everyone has heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF), there is an alternative more suitable for some women: Intrauterine insemination, also called IUI. Although lesser known than IVF, IUI is also safe and effective. It is a common choice when a male partner has low sperm count or low sperm mobility.
What Is Intrauterine Insemination?
During an intrauterine insemination, sperm are concentrated and placed directly into a woman’s uterus. This means they are very close to the egg when the treatment is complete. Comparatively, during typical conception the sperm must travel from the vagina through the cervix, into the uterus, and up the fallopian tubes.
What Is The Difference Between Intrauterine Insemination and IVF?
IVF is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure where a sperm and egg are combined in a medical laboratory. That is, it takes place outside of the body. Before the treatment, a woman must take medication to stimulate the ovaries so that egg retrieval, which requires sedation, will be successful.
How Effective Is Intrauterine Insemination?
Although IVF has higher success rates than intrauterine insemination overall, IUI is still highly effective. Each IUI cycle produces a 10% to 20% chance of pregnancy. Doctors often recommend that women undergo three cycles of intrauterine insemination before considering IVF, in part due to IVF’s rate of multiple births.
When Is Intrauterine Insemination Used?
Intrauterine insemination can be used in almost any situation where a couple has had
long-term difficulty conceiving a child. That said, there are some health conditions that may predispose a couple to using IUI in preference to other fertility treatments.
Intrauterine insemination is often chosen in cases of:
● Unexplained infertility with no clear medical explanation on the part of either partner
● An adverse medical condition of the cervix, including issues with cervical mucous
● Cervical scar tissue left by past surgical procedures inhibiting sperm passage
● Erectile or ejaculation dysfunction
When Should Intrauterine Insemination Not Be Used?
Like any procedure, intrauterine insemination is not right for everyone.
In particular, IUI is usually avoided when the patient has a severe disorder of the fallopian tubes, when there is an established history of recurring and serious pelvic infections, and among women who have moderate or severe endometriosis, the growth of uterine-like tissue outside of the uterus.
What Are the Risks of Intrauterine Insemination?
Performed correctly under the supervision of a qualified physician, the risks of IUI are relatively mild. There is an enhanced chance of multiple births if a woman takes fertility medications while undergoing IUI. There is also a small chance of post-procedure infection, comparable to many other minimally invasive procedures.
What Are the Advantages of IUI?
IUI is less invasive than many alternatives. It can be performed on a monthly basis without significant risk of side effects and with little disruption to the patient’s daily life. Because it is less invasive than IVF, there are few significant health risks. It is also substantially less expensive than a course of IVF treatment. What’s more, the IUI procedure is quick, induces only mild (if any) discomfort, and does not require anesthesia.
How Long Should Couples Attempt to Conceive Before Pursuing IUI?
It is a good idea to talk to your OB/GYN if you have questions about your suitability for IUI or any other type of fertility treatment. The best way to proceed depends on your age, health, and many other factors. If you are 30-35, it is common to attempt conception for at least six months. To learn more about assisted reproduction, contact Jennifer Fairfax.