Are You a Good Candidate for IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, has helped millions of infertile couples get pregnant and have healthy babies. During the IUI procedure, the fertility specialist injects the male’s sperm directly into the female’s uterus.
Intrauterine insemination is appealing to many couples because it costs less and is less invasive than other types of high-tech fertility treatments. Although fertility medications are not required with IUI, the doctor may request that you begin treatment with Clomid (clomiphene citrate), gonadotropins, or other fertility pills before starting an IUI cycle.
Getting pregnant with IUI
If you are having difficulty getting pregnant or if you are using donor sperm to conceive, you should look at IUI as a fertility treatment option. At the beginning of this procedure, the male provides a sperm sample to an andrology lab. The lab will wash, process, and concentrate his sperm into a high volume, allowing only the healthiest and mobile sperm access to fertilize your egg.
Your fertility specialist will then carefully monitor your ovulation cycle, in order to perfectly time the IUI (injection of the washed sperm) into your uterus. This process of preparing the sperm, timing insemination accurately, and directly depositing sperm into the uterus helps to maximize your chances of conceiving.
Is IUI right for you?
If you are interested in IUI, you will want to meet with your doctor to make sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure. Your doctor will need to confirm that your fallopian tubes are open, and not blocked. This is a requirement for a successful pregnancy to occur with IUI.
Your doctor will also analyze your ovarian reserve, making sure that you have enough quality eggs in your ovaries and that your hormone levels are within a typical, healthy range.
If you have cervical mucus problems, you may be advised to try IUI to get pregnant. Since sperm are able to bypass the cervix and directly enter into the uterus during IUI, poor quality cervical mucus becomes inconsequential.
Male factor infertility can also be treated with IUI. If your partner has a low sperm count or poor sperm movement, the sperm washing procedure does boost the chances of conception. Overall, a fertility specialist can determine if you are a good candidate for IUI by analyzing all of these factors.
Alternatives to IUI
Unfortunately, there are subgroups of women that are not good candidates for IUI, including women with severe endometriosis. Before starting IUI, your doctor will need to make sure that your fallopian tubes are in good health, and not blocked. Your doctor may do a test called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is an X-ray test analyzing the structure and health of your fallopian tubes and uterus. A hysterosalpingogram can determine if there are any blockages in your tubes that might hinder your eggs from passing from the fallopian tubes into the uterus for fertilization and implantation.
As discussed, women must have normal ovarian reserve to qualify for IUI. If you have low ovarian reserve, or poor quality eggs, your doctor may recommend another fertility treatment option. Your age matters with IUI, too. As you approach 40, the chances of conceiving drop dramatically, and many clinics will use age 40 as a cutoff for IUI.
Ready for IUI?
Intrauterine insemination can be appealing to many qualified couples because it is affordable and there are few health risks and side effects. Your doctor may recommend that you try at least three to six IUI cycles before moving on to other high-tech fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF). After six IUI cycles, your chances of conceiving with IUI continue to drop dramatically.
If you are trying to conceive and are interested in IUI, talk to your doctor to see if this is an appropriate therapy for you.
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