Also known as artificial insemination, sperm are placed in the uterus at the peak time to fertilise the eggs. We will usually combine this with fertility drugs to encourage the development of eggs.
Why choose IUI?
There are a range of reasons for choosing IUI over IVF and these will be thoroughly discussed in the initial consultations and after the assessments that Mr Julian Norman-Taylor at Chiltern Fertility will conduct. IUI costs less than IVF and is less invasive, physically and emotionally. It will only work where the fallopian tubes are not blocked, and the sperm is of a reasonable quality.
Pregnancy rates for IUI can be very good for selected cases. Some of the main reasons for choosing IUI are listed below:
- Single females, using donor sperm may prefer to use this route rather than IVF as the process is less invasive and more natural
- Couples where the male partner suffers from impotence or psychological or physiological disorders which prevent him from ejaculating in the vagina or where a sexually transmitted disease prevents sexual intercourse
- Unexplained infertility. The lower cost may make this an attractive first stage for some couples although the procedure is much less precise than IVF or ICSI
- Couples where the sperm is mildly sub optimal as it is introduced closer to the eggs
What is the process for IUI?
Often an IUI patient will start treatment with fertility drugs to help maximise the chance of producing follicles, although that’s not always the case. Before the drugs are administered an ultrasound scan is done and then another about a week later to see if two to three follicles that are at least 18mm across have been produced. If this is successful then another fertility hormone is injected to trigger the ovulation process. This is known as ovulation induction.
Normally the IUI procedure is carried out within 24-36 hours of this injection and washed sperm (this just means specially chosen healthy sperm) are introduced to the uterus via a catheter and the whole process can be completed in less than quarter of an hour.
What are the chances of success?
This will vary from person to person and couple to couple based on age and fertility. Whilst arguably the process is more natural than IVF because the egg has a chance to be fertilised in the body without the need for a laboratory phase or external incubation there is no guarantee of producing an embryo. The chances of success compared with normal sexual intercourse will be increased due to the presence of more than one egg and the proximity of the sperm. There is a risk in using more than one follicle that the treatment can result in multiple pregnancies and this is something you will discuss with your Mr Norman-Taylor in advance of any procedure.
Is there any pain?
IUI should be a painless and quick procedure. Occasionally some women complain of cramps, like period pain but there should be nothing more than this.