Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is one of several infertility treatments that uses a small catheter to insert “washed” sperm directly into the uterus in a process similar to a pap smear. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of good sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. IUI is usually selected as a treatment for conditions including:
- unexplained infertility
- low sperm count
- decreased sperm motility
- donor sperm
- hostile cervical condition such as cervical mucus that is too thick or cervical scar tissue from past procedures
- ejaculation dysfunction and timing issues
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), the injection of sperm into the uterus by means of a catheter directed through the cervix, has been practiced for many years.
IUI With Injectables
IUI with injectable medications is sometimes used as part of a progressive treatment approach by some physicians among a specific patient group. The treatment may progress from timed intercourse, to IUI with oral medications (clomiphene/clomid), to IUI with injectable medications.
It is important to remember that IUI in general is only effective if the diagnosis indicates ovulatory or sometimes cervical issues. It will be ineffective for cases of blocked tubes, as it still requires that the eggs make the journey through the tubes prior to fertilization. Because in most cases, injectable medications won’t provide much (if any) benefit over oral medications for IUI, they are in many cases an unneeded expense that can be skipped in favor of moving on to IVF. Occasionally, a patient who doesn’t respond well to oral medications can be put on a regimen of injectables for IUI and have a successful cycle.
IUI Side Effects
The intrauterine insemination procedure itself causes very few side effects. Some mild cramping may occur after the insemination. In general, the side effects experienced are related to the fertility medications taken to stimulate ovulation. Side effects of stimulation medications can include hot flashes, mood swings, breast tenderness and/or bloating, nausea, headaches, bruising or rash at the injection site (if injectable medications are used). Because IUI procedures don’t allow the doctor to regulate the number of eggs ovulated, there is a higher than normal risk of multiple gestation, which can lead to premature birth and the associated risks.