The IUI procedure and success rate journey explained…
When you are trying to start a family, it can be incredibly disheartening when it doesn’t seem to be going well. Each month can start to feel like a stressful game of hide and seek as you anxiously wait to take a pregnancy test or take a trip to the store to stock up on sanitary products.
If you’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to fall pregnant and are ready to start exploring your options for assisted conception, intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be a good place to start, depending on your specific circumstances.
If you’re wondering what the IUI procedure is, what it feels like and what its success rate is, here are some things that couples taking the path of the IUI journey wish they knew before their first time.
What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
In this process, the sperm is placed directly into the uterus with the help of a small tube passed up the cervix so as to maximise the chances of getting pregnant. The sperms have to be “washed” first so as to discard the proteins and dead sperm that could otherwise cramp the uterus when inserted.
The best sperm samples are then placed as close to the fallopian tubes as possible at the time of ovulation. Doing this gives the sperm a bit of a head start in the race to reach the egg (may the best man win!). The procedure is conducted by a medical practitioner and is typically recommended as one of the first assisted reproductive technologies.
When is intrauterine insemination done?
This procedure is usually performed in situations where there are fertility struggles, like when the male partner has a low sperm count, unexplained infertility, cervical mucus issues, endometriosis, and decreased sperm motility. This process can also assist same-sex couples who are trying to conceive.
How is intrauterine insemination performed?
IUI is a relatively simple procedure and can easily be performed by a medical healthcare provider at a fertility clinic. Let’s have a look at the steps involved:
Step 1: Stimulating ovulation
Hormone treatment will be prescribed either through oral medication or in the form of daily injections. These drugs will help in optimising the period cycle and in inducing ovulation.
Step 2: Sampling the semen
The trained personnel at the fertility clinic will collect a sample of the man’s semen which will then be analysed. The most optimal sperm is then selected with regard to motility and strength. Preparation for the process of artificial insemination is then done with the concentrated semen sample.
Step 3: The insemination process
The timing of the procedure is calculated depending on your cycle. The concentrated semen sample is inserted into the uterine cavity, with the help of a catheter, on the day of the procedure. Progesterone is also prescribed by the specialist to support the final stage of the cycle.
Step 4: Pregnancy test
A pregnancy test in the form of a blood test will be performed on a particular day indicated by the specialist. This is done to confirm the success of the procedure.
What does the IUI procedure feel like?
The entire procedure of performing the IUI is relatively painless when done under proper medical supervision. Some women describe the sensation of the catheter entering the cervix like cramping, pressure or a scratchy feeling which is not painful. It could feel a bit uncomfortable and awkward but is generally considered to be minimally invasive.
Aside from the procedure, the toughest part is the dreaded two week long wait to receive the results. While it is completely normal to feel anxious about the outcome, doctors recommend trying to maintain realistic expectations and avoid stressing (easier said than done, we know).
It’s also natural to be concerned about intrauterine insemination side effects however, the vast majority of women have no side effects at all. On the other hand, some women could have spotting or minor cramping in the 24 hours after the IUI procedure, both of which are completely normal.
How much does intrauterine insemination cost?
Generally, IUI is considered to be less expensive when compared to IVF or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and can prove to bring down the overall cost of fertility treatment significantly. The cost of intrauterine insemination will mainly depend from couple to couple as the number of tests and treatments that your partner and you might need to undertake will vary.
Keeping that aside, getting the IUI at a fertility clinic could have an out-of-pocket expense of about AUD 2,037, which is, fortunately, eligible for a Medicare rebate.
What are the intrauterine insemination success rates?
It’s incredibly subjective to predict whether or not IUI will work for you and varies from individual to individual. It’s being perceived that, on average, women under 35 years of age will have a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting pregnant with each IUI, while on the other hand, women over 40 years of age will have a 2 to 5 percent chance.
High success rates from IUI come from cumulative cycles, which means that the more the number of tries taken, the more likely the chances of getting pregnant. Doctors also suggest that if pregnancy does not happen with IUI after a few cycles, taking another approach like IVF should be the next best way forward.
IUI is seen as a comparatively less invasive and emotionally less impactful procedure that can be the first line of action for the couple trying to build a family. Deciding on how to move ahead with the artificial insemination option is an involved process, and closely collaborating with your medical caregivers will help you build trust along with making you feel comfortable with them.
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