INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION (IUI)
Having trouble falling pregnant comes as a surprise to most women and men. Many people assume that pregnancy will follow immediately after birth control is discontinued. In reality, up to one in six couples worldwide have difficulty conceiving during the first 12 months of trying. These days, the treatment options available to help you become pregnant are relatively simple, effective and affordable, and the success rates are very promising. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a common procedure that has been used for many years to help deliver male sperm closer to the female egg.
What is intrauterine insemination?
You may have heard the term artificial insemination (AI). This is the name given to a procedure where sperm are placed into the female reproductive system by a means other than intercourse. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the most common form of AI used and involves placing sperm into the female’s uterus through an assisted medical process. As it is a relatively low-tech solution to infertility problems, IUI is usually one of the first techniques used to assist a couple who is having difficulty becoming pregnant. In the procedure, warmed and ‘washed’ (treated) sperm are introduced into the woman’s uterus through a tube. Sperm can be provided by the woman’s husband or partner (artificial insemination by husband – AIH) or sperm provided by a known or anonymous sperm donor (artificial insemination by donor – AID or DI). The procedure is done around the time of ovulation to give the best chance of conception. Hormonal (fertility) medications might be used in conjunction with the treatment to enhance conditions for a pregnancy.
What are the benefits?
During normal intercourse, only relatively small numbers of sperm make it to the woman’s uterus and into the fallopian tubes where fertilization takes place. IUI inserts large amounts of the best performing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus thus increasing the chance of fertilization.
Reasons for using IUI
IUI is mainly used when timed intercourse or hormonal medications alone have not worked, or if there are ‘mild’ sperm abnormalities, such as poor motility (i.e. the ability of the sperm to move). It is also used in conjunction with donor sperm. In addition, IUI can be used to overcome fertility due to the following conditions:
- Mild endometriosis
- Mucus ‘hostility’
- Ovulation Problems
- Low sperm count
- Ejaculation problems
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Unexplained infertility
- Physical problems with sexual intercourse
The success rates for IUI will vary depending on a number of factors including the number of cycle attempts and maternal age