Intrauterine Insemination: aka Artificial Insemination, IUI, IUI For Infertility, Intrauterine Insemination & Infertility, Human Artificial Insemination
What is it?
Intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination (IUI) is a procedure where the male sperm is placed directly in the uterine cavity in hopes that it will produce conception. This process is often used for couples that have had trouble conceiving or for couples that are using a surrogate in the hopes they will conceive a child with the help of someone carrying their baby for them.
Many couples take advantage of artificial insemination or IUS because they have fertility resulting from one of many conditions including:
- Endometriosis, a painful condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus causing painful cramping and sometimes menstrual difficulty
- Unexplained fertility, where a woman may not be able to get pregnant for unexplained reasons
- Anovulatory cycles, where a woman does not ovulate regularly
- Male factor infertility, where the male is not fertile for various causes
- Immunological abnormalities, where for immune reasons the couple is not fertile
IUI is not a good treatment option for women that have blocked fallopian tubes because once conception occurs the embryo must travel through the fallopian tubes. Thus doctors will research this first to ensure a woman is capable of conceiving once the IUI takes place and conception occurs.
Before the actual procedure a woman will also take stimulating medications that will help promote egg development so she will produce more than one egg for insemination. The insemination will be carefully timed so it occurs right at ovulation, when the egg is released from the follicles.
The procedure occurs at the time of ovulation, when conception is to occur. During this time a semen specimen is collected. The semen is then washed, a process whereby semen is separated from other parts of the ejaculate so only the strongest sperm are used for the procedure. Separation occurs using many different methods including spinning. This process takes up to one hour.
Then doctors cleanse the cervix and vagina and place the sperm into the uterine cavity, which is where the IUI procedure gets its name. This is achieved using a catheter. IUI is more likely to result in conception than a similar procedure where the sperm is placed in the cervix, a procedure known as ICI or intracervical insemination.
Alternatives to Surgery
There are hormonal techniques that can be used prior to this procedure. Also, for couples who do not desire to go through a surgical procedure, adoption is a consideration.
Before the Operation
Before the operation a doctor may test sperm count to evaluate male fertility. A test of the fallopian tubes known as tubal patency will also occur to assess whether the fallopian tubes are open or not to explore whether IUI is a viable option. Once these tests are carried out IUI can occur for 3 to 6 cycles. After this time IUI will probably not be utilized as a viable treatment option again until some break in time has occurred because hormone medications have to be taken and they cannot be taken continuously for more than a few months at a time.
After the Operation- At Home
Once the procedure is complete you’ll rest in the hostipal for awhile and then be allowed to go home.
The procedure is uncomplicated and the rates of risk are generally low for women. The biggest risk for women is the risk of multiple births because many women take ovarian stimulating medications. Women are encouraged to produce more than one egg to increase their chances of conception. Thus when women do conceive many conceive more than one embryo. This places a woman more at risk for complications during pregnancy and bed rest.
The fetuses are more at risk for premature birth and complications associated with early birth.
There is a small risk of infection in the uterus or bacterial infection that may arise from the semen sample or from the catheter that goes into the uterus during insemination however this is a small risk minimized by sterile operating procedures. As long as the woman goes to a reputable clinic the odds of this happening are extremely low.
Intrauterine insemination is a relatively low risk and low tech tool infertile couples can use to try to conceive a biological child if they have had trouble conceiving. During this procedure semen is washed and then inserted directly into the uterine cavity using a catheter. Women often take stimulating medications to encourage the odds of conceiving. Sometimes this can increase the odds of conceiving twins.
While the cost is reasonable compared to pricier alternatives like IVF, the success rate may not be as high. However, for women with uncomplicated infertility problems, IUI may be just the procedure necessary to help them conceive their bundle of joy.
Estimated Costs for Intrauterine Insemination
The costs of IUI are not high for one or two treatments but many women may have to undergo several treatments before they are able to conceive. Keep in mind that conceiving does not guarantee your ability to carry a pregnancy to term. Once a woman does conceive the next hurdle is carrying a pregnancy to term. The good news is with proper medical care many women will go on to have happy, safe and healthy deliveries.
Make sure you consult with trained professionals if you are considering IUI or other infertility treatments. This is not an area of medicine you want to skimp on price for the sake of cost. Generally however the cost is relatively similar globally for this procedure.
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