Before starting any form of fertility treatment, it’s important to know exactly what to expect. If you are considering (or have been recommended) IUI treatment, this guide will provide a great place to start your journey. Read on to discover exactly what IUI treatment is, including the processes and timeline involved with it.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a form of fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s womb. The main aim is to increase the chances of fertilisation due to allowing more sperm to reach the egg. During IUI treatment, the sperm will either come from your partner or sperm donor, depending on your situation.
To put it simply, IUI involves separating fast-moving sperm from slow or non-moving sperm. The semen comes from masturbation and the separation process is carried out in the laboratory. Once the sperm has been collected, it is placed into the women’s uterus, as close as possible to the time of ovulation.
Read on to discover more about the IUI timeline. Here, you will learn what to expect before and during treatment.
Before undertaking IUI, you will need to have a consultation with a fertility specialist. This will help to ensure that you understand what the treatment entails and also helps to ensure that the treatment is right for you. This will further be confirmed through a range of fertility tests, as part of the IUI timeline.
Fertility tests are important to carry out. This is because there are some circumstances in which IUI might not be the best option. Your consultant will outline these to you before offering the treatment.
Once it has been agreed that IUI is the best fertility treatment for your situation, the planning will begin. For the best chances of IUI success, your IUI cycle should begin around 12 to 16 days before your next period. This is usually the time in which a woman ovulates.
Of course, menstruation varies between individuals (particularly those with an irregular menstrual cycle). Your fertility specialist may give you an ovulation prediction kit (OPK) to assist here.
During this pre-treatment stage, you might be offered one of the following:
Natural IUI is the most common and simple form of IUI. It follows the same process as stated above, following the pattern of your natural menstrual cycle. This form of IUI is most suited to those with regular cycles.
If you have irregular menstrual cycles or struggle with other ovulation-related issues, you might be offered stimulated IUI. With a stimulated IUI cycle, vaginal ultrasound scans will be conducted to track the development of your eggs. Once the egg is mature, you’ll be given a hormone injection. This injection stimulates the release of the egg, allowing for the rest of the IUI treatment to be carried out as normal.
As IUI focuses on injecting sperm into a woman’s womb, it’s important to ensure that the sperm is strong. If you have a partner that’s able to donate sperm, then they can do this for you. If not, you will have the option to use donated sperm.
If you decide to use your partner’s sperm, they will need to masturbate into a specimen cup on the day of treatment. Once collected, the sperm will be filtered, resulting in a concentrated pool of “healthy” or “strong” sperm.
No matter your sexual orientation or relationship status, frozen sperm from a donor can be used during IUI. This sperm is usually frozen for six months prior to ensure that it is free from any infection or disease.
When the sperm is ready, a speculum is inserted into the vagina to keep it open. A catheter will then be guided into the womb – the sperm sample will pass through this. The insemination will take no longer than a few minutes and is usually painless.
We will advise you to take a 15 to 20 minute rest before heading home.
There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to determining IUI success rates. One of the main ones is a woman’s age. For women aged under 36, the clinical pregnancy rate sits at 10 to 12% per treatment cycle.
For full clarity and confidence, it’s best to speak to your fertility specialists to discuss both risks and success rates.
Compared to other fertility treatments, IUI involves a really quick procedure that takes just minutes to complete. If you wish to know more about intrauterine insemination or want to discuss your options further, do not hesitate to get in touch with our specialists today.