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Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination

What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

If it is proving impossible to get pregnant in the conventional way, the doctor can perform so-called insemination (semen transfer). Sperm is introduced into the uterus of the woman with the help of a simple medical procedure. These may be the sperm of one's partner (homologous) or of a sperm donor (heterologous/donor). To do this, the processed sperm are transferred directly into the woman's uterus using a catheter following ovulation, which is triggered by hormonal stimulation. Insemination is often used in the case of mild fertility disorders in the man, for example.

When is an Insemination used?

At the moment of natural ovulation, specially prepared sperm from the male partner are transferred directly into the uterus cavity with the help of a thin catheter for insemination (also known as an IUI).

Insemination is recommended:

  • When the man shows a degree of infertility

  • When the couple cannot have sexual intercourse

  • For same-sex couples, e.g. lesbian couples

  • If distinctive features of the cervix show that there will be interference with the ascension of sperm to the uterine cavity (e.g. a narrow cervix or anomalies in the area of the uterine neck)

IUI using donor sperm

Donor sperm can be used for intrauterine insemination. Couples may choose to use donor sperm in certain situations:

  • Men who have no sperm in the ejaculate.

  • Single women.

  • Same-sex couples.

  • Couples for whom there is a severe problem with the sperm, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has been recommended, but the couple do not wish to undergo IVF and ICSI.

Who is IUI not recommended for?

IUI is not recommended for the following patients:

  • Women who have severe disease of the fallopian tubes.

  • Women with moderate to severe endometriosis.

  • Women with a history of pelvic infections.

  • Males with a very low sperm count or poor quality sperm.

If you are unsure whether the above apply to you or not, speak to one of our specialists today. We can advise whether or not IUI would be the best fertility treatment for your requirements.

What’s the difference between IUI and IVF?

Many people assume that IUI is the same as IVF. However, this is not the case. IUI is known to be less invasive than an IVF cycle and, for some people, can often be the more popular of the two treatments. During the IUI process, the highest quality sperm are selected and injected directly into the uterus.

In comparison, IVF involves collecting the eggs and sperm, fertilising them in a laboratory and then transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus. IUI, in comparison, allows the body to do more on its own. Therefore, many people consider it to be a more natural form of fertility treatment.

IUI success rates

As with any fertility treatment, the success rate of IUI depends on many factors. Even so, IUI success rates tend to be around one-third of those for IVF. As with any fertility treatment, a woman’s age plays a big part in conception success. The younger a woman is, the higher her chances of getting pregnant. However, IUI success rates will differ from person to person. We can discuss the likelihood of pregnancy success for you based on your individualised treatment plan when you book a consultation with us today.

The IUI process, a step by step guide into IUI treatment

The IUI process below outlines the average steps in a single cycle of IUI treatment. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that you may be given different drugs for your treatment, depending on what is best for you

Step 1. Check the fallopian tubes

The first step before commencing the IUI process is for the woman to have a tubal assessment. During this assessment, if you are a woman going through this procedure, we will check that your fallopian tubes are open and healthy using a procedure called a HyCoSy. This involves a specialised vaginal ultrasound to detect whether dye passes through the fallopian tubes. Occasionally, the tubes will be assessed in other ways, such as through keyhole surgery or the use of a specialised X-ray called a hysterosalpingogram.

Step 2. Fertility drugs

We may recommend that the woman take fertility drugs to help boost her egg production. Occasionally, she can have IUI treatment as part of her normal menstrual cycle.

Step 3. Scans

If she is taking fertility drugs, we will monitor her regularly with ultrasound scans to check how many follicles are developing.

Step 4. Hormone injection

Shortly before the insemination, the woman will be given a hormone injection called the trigger injection. This injection will help the final phase of egg maturation and will result in the egg being released, ready to travel down the fallopian tube to meet the sperm.

Step 5. Insemination

Sperm are washed and prepared, and then the best quality sperm are selected and injected into the uterus. This process only takes a few minutes and is relatively pain free.

Step 6. Pregnancy test

After insemination, we will give the woman a date to carry out her pregnancy test, and this will be around two weeks after insemination. Try not to take a pregnancy test any earlier than this as the result could be misleading.

What is the success rate of insemination?

The advantage of insemination is that a very large number of sperm cells can be brought close to the egg. Whether a pregnancy will occur after insemination depends on several factors - such as the age of the woman, the quality of the egg, the sperm quality of the partner and any accompanying hormone treatment.

Women under 35 have a probability of becoming pregnant of about 12-18% per insemination; women between 35 and 40 have about a 10% chance of pregnancy due to already reduced fertility.

Are there any risks or side effects with insemination (IUI)?

The risks of insemination without hormonal stimulation are very low. Due to the use of ultra-soft and very flexible catheters, injury to the uterus through insemination can practically always be ruled out.

Your first consultation with TFP Fertility

If you still have some questions about the procedure of intrauterine insemination (IUI) or the woman's individual chances of pregnancy, just give us a call and arrange an initial consultation with one of our fertility experts in your local TFP fertility clinic.

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