Intra-Uterine Insemination, or IUI, is sometimes recommended as a simpler and more affordable starting point for fertility treatment.
What is IUI?
It is the direct placement of a ‘clean’ preparation of sperm through the neck of the womb (cervix) and into the uterus during ovulation.
Who can benefit from IUI?
It has been traditionally used on couples with in fertility due to an ovulation, cervical factor, and unexplained infertility (cases for which we cannot find / define the cause(s) of inability to conceive naturally).
IUI is recommended for cases of hostile cervical mucus or endometriosis in women and slightly poor sperm quantity / quality in men.
It can also be used when semen has been frozen due to husband’s absence, or before a damaging treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
How is IUI done?
This procedure is performed by a doctor. The sperm preparation (following sperm collection) is placed in a flexible sterile tube (catheter) and introduced through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. It is a relatively painless procedure that may cause some mild cramping and/or discomfort. The majority of times, however, it is painless and very well tolerated.
Immediately after IUI, which takes around 5 minutes, your doctor will ask you to lie down for another 5 minutes. After this very short time, you can resume your normal activities as long as they do not involve strenuous activities.
IUI can be performed during a natural cycle or with artificial hormone stimulation (ovulation induction). Usually it is done with ovulation induction treatment, to increase pregnancy rates. In cases of an ovulatory infertility, ovulation induction is mandatory.
How successful can IUI be?
The success of IUI varies and depends on the underlying cause(s) of infertility for a couple. Pregnancy rates after a single IUI attempt are not high and it is not uncommon for more IUI cycles to be performed. As an average, pregnancy rates after IUI are 15%, ranging from 5% (in some cases of unexplained infertility) to 35% (an ovulatory infertility).
After three IUI procedures, 50-60% of all women are pregnant.
How many IUI attempts are recommended?
Patients who have not been pregnant after three attempts are encouraged to undergo In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) or Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). Statistically, IUI pregnancies occur after three attempts, and if this not the case, your chances of success with IUI after the third time are minimal.
If you undergo more than three unsuccessful IUI attempts, we re-evaluate the situation and recommend an alternative treatment strategy at a follow-up consultation.