Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is the first step in fertility treatment for many couples. It is a less costly and more conservative fertility treatment option, with positive success in ideal patients.
An IUI is accomplished by placing highly concentrated sperm directly into the uterus. This treatment boosts the chance of conception by increasing the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes. For couples with unexplained infertility, IUI is a commonly used treatment option. It is also used for couples with ovulation issues, mild endometriosis, and mild male infertility issues with sperm or erectile dysfunction.
With certain diagnoses, IUI will not be an effective treatment option. If any of the below apply, a different treatment approach will be necessary.
Intrauterine Insemination Process
There is a range of treatment options available to someone considering an IUI cycle. They include a monitored oral medication (Clomid) cycle with timed intercourse, a monitored oral medication cycle with an ovulation induction trigger shot (hCG), or an injectable medication (FSH) cycle with an ovulation induction trigger shot.
Step 1: Stimulation & Monitoring
If injectable medications are needed, the woman is typically given fertility medications for a time period of 5-14 days in order to stimulate ovarian (egg) development and prepare for ovulation. While on stimulation medication, regular monitoring via ultrasound and blood test is required. Ultrasound monitoring measures egg follicle growth, as well as the increasing thickness of the uterine lining. Blood work monitors estrogen levels, which rise as follicles develop.
Step 2: Trigger Shot
Once follicle development and estrogen levels reach optimal numbers, the final medication step is a trigger shot. If medically inducing ovulation, the trigger shot places eggs in the final stage of maturation and begins the ovulation process. Once the shot is administered, the IUI procedure will take place within 12-36 hours.
Step 3: Sperm Collection & Washing
On the day of the procedure, the male can produce either a fresh sample or a previously collected vial will be thawed in our lab and prepared for the insemination. In a process called sperm washing, the sperm are separated from other semen components, creating a highly concentrated sample for the procedure. Sperm washing is done in a laboratory and requires no longer than an hour to complete.
Step 4: Insemination
For the intrauterine insemination procedure, washed sperm are placed directly into the uterine cavity using a thin, flexible catheter. The procedure only requires a few minutes to complete.
To schedule a consultation to discuss intrauterine insemination in more detail, click here.