Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)


Intrauterine insemination refers to a type of artificial insemination, which can be used for infertility treatments. In the procedure, sperms are washed and concentrated, following which they are placed directly in the uterus when it is time for one or more of the eggs to be released for fertilisation. The older methods placed the sperm in the vagina. Though the process was easy, it was nearly not as successful as the current technique. The outcome that is hoped to follow involves the swimming of the sperms into the fallopian tube and fertilize the egg, resulting in a normal pregnancy.

Why is the intrauterine insemination performed?

A lot of things need to go absolutely right for a couple to get pregnant. Failure of these factors might be the reasons why the couple cannot conceive. Let us look at the reasons why intrauterine insemination becomes necessary in certain people:

  • Cervical factor infertility - The cervix provides the opening between the uterus and the vagina. The cervical mucus offers an ideal environment for the sperm to travel to the fallopian tubes. However, the journey may be impeded if the mucus is too thick. Since intrauterine insemination bypasses the cervix, an increasing number of sperms can meet the egg.
  • Mild male factor infertility - If it is found through the semen analysis of your partner that the sperms have weak mobility, below-average sperm concentration and abnormalities in the sperm size, intrauterine insemination can be used.
  • Endometriosis-related infertility - When the infertility is related to endometriosis, Medications are used to obtain a good quality egg and IUI is also performed as the first approach.
  • Unexplained infertility - When infertility is unexplained, IUI becomes the first treatment procedure along with medications inducing ovulation.
  • Donor sperm - IUI is the most common method where women need donor sperms to get pregnant. The frozen donor sperm specimens are obtained from certified labs and thawed before the IUI procedure.

What happens before the actual procedure?

Careful coordination is required before the intrauterine insemination takes place:

  • Preparing the semen sample - A semen sample has to be produced by your partner, which is prepared.  Since non-sperm elements can cause reactions, the sample is washed, creating highly active normal sperm count. The likelihood of pregnancy increases when the sperm sample is highly concentrated.
  • Monitoring for ovulation - The timing of intrauterine insemination is crucial. A urine ovulation predictor kit can be used to detect when there is a surge of luteinizing hormone in the body. An imaging method would help the doctor to see the ovaries and the egg growth. An injection of human chorionic gonadotropin can also be given to make you ovulate.
  • Determining optimal time - Most of the IUIs are performed a day or two after detecting ovulation. The doctor should have a planned schedule for the IUI.

What can you expect?

The visit for intrauterine insemination does not take more than 20 minutes and takes place in the doctor’s clinic. No medications or pain relievers would be required. You would need to put the legs on a stirrup and a speculum is inserted into the vagina.

A vial of healthy sperms is connected to the end of a long, flexible and thin catheter. The catheter is inserted into the vagina through the cervix and into the uterus. The sperm sample is then pushed into the uterus, following which the catheter and speculum are removed. If the pregnancy is not successful, IUI can be given another try before moving on to other fertility treatments.

Authored by Dr. Radhika Meka

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