Q&A: What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)? What are the risks involved?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), more commonly known as Artificial Insemination, is a procedure used to aid in achieving pregnancy. This technique involves the direct deposit of sperm into a woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation with the intent of resulting in fertilization. If you have had trouble getting pregnant, IUI may be a fertility option available to you.
Women who consider IUI typically do so for the following reasons:
- Partner has a low sperm count
- Donor sperm is being used
- Infertility of an unknown cause
- Cervical factors (the mucus is too thick or not sperm friendly)
If your doctor thinks that IUI is the right technique for you, you will be closely monitored to detect the perfect time for conception. What is the perfect time?
What you will do:
- You doctor will have you monitor your physical symptoms (signs of ovulation) carefully, by noting changes in your cervical mucus and your basal body temperature
- Your doctor may ask you to come in for an ultrasound to detect ovulation
- You may need to take medication to help stimulate egg release
What your partner will do:
- Provide a sperm sample of sperm which will be analyzed and “washed” before the IUI procedure (“Washing” involves getting rid of any extraneous fluid or weaker sperm to create a more potent sample.)
When your doctor determines that the timing is optimal, you will go to the office for the IUI procedure. It is quick and relatively pain free. You will lay on your back with your feet in stirrups (just like during your regular GYN check up). The doctor will insert a long tin tube (catheter) into your uterus through the vagina and cervical opening. A syringe full of the sperm sample will be connected to the tube and will then be “deposited” inside your uterus. The hope is that the sperm will find the awaiting eggs! You may be asked to remain on your back for about 20 or 30 minutes after which you will go home and begin the countdown until a pregnancy test can be done.
What are the risks?
- There is a very low risk of infection
- There is a possibility of a multiple pregnancy, which can present risks to the babies and to the mom (depending on the age of the mother and the number of fetuses she is carrying)
If your IUI procedure does not result in pregnancy the first time, try not to get discouraged. Your doctor may repeat it a few times before trying a different method. Your doctor will help to choose the very best method to achieve your dream of having a baby.