SO WHAT IS IUI?
So if you’re wondering what IUI is about, IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. It is one of the types of infertility treatment available. Another known type of treatment is IVF.
Normally, every month, a woman’s ovary releases an egg which travels down the fallopian tubes for the possibility of being fertilized by a male sperm. In the case that conception does not occur, the egg and the uterine lining get shed which is what we see as our menstrual period. The process of which the ovary develops the follicle that matures to release the egg is called ovulation. This process is controlled by hormones such as luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.
In IUI, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs through the use of hormones to increase the chances of conception. Hormones can be given orally or given through injection. Through blood work and ultrasounds, your ovulation process will be externally monitored and controlled to optimize your chances of egg and sperm meeting. After your doctor judges it is time to induce the egg to be released from the follicle, you will have instructions to give yourself an injection that causes ovulation. Within 2-3 days, you will then be scheduled for insemination. Your partner will be asked to come in and give a sperm deposit. This deposit does not have to be given at the facility and can be given from home but usually a strict protocol must be followed so the sperm can be brought to the facility and processed in a timely manner. The sample will then undergo a sperm wash. This procedure separates the sperm from the fluid and is processed so what is remaining to be inseminated is the most optimum sample. The process of the sperm wash can take an hour. Insemination requires the woman to lay on her back with feet in the stirrups of the exam table; similar position when receiving a gynecological exam. A speculum will be used, and a catheter tubing will be inserted through the cervix into the uterus where the sperm will be injected through by a syringe. Afterwards, the woman is asked to lay flat for a given amount of time (usually 30 minutes) and given post procedure instructions. In about 2 weeks, a blood pregnancy test will be performed. Immediately after insemination, exercise and movements that require any straining, heavy lifting or Valsalva maneuver is to be avoided.
Via IUI, sperm is directly placed into the woman’s uterus in hopes of improving conception. In IUI, the sperm and egg still have to meet on their own for fertilization in the fallopian tube.
IUI is considered in certain circumstances and isn’t right for everyone. Before deciding on any form of treatment, always discuss in full detail all options with your Reproductive Endocrinologist and/ or your partner.