The CDC estimates that one in eight couples under 35 experience infertility. And for individuals or couples struggling to conceive, assisted reproduction such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) can start the family you’ve hoped for.
Let’s cover the intrauterine insemination process, IUI candidacy, and success rates for this procedure.
What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as donor insemination, is a procedure whereby sperm is placed inside the uterus to ensure healthy sperm gets closer to the egg and increases the chances of successful fertilization.
The sperm is placed in the uterus during ovulation. The hope for the outcome of the procedure is for the sperm to swim to the fallopian tube and fertilize the egg, resulting in pregnancy.
Good candidates for IUI
Intrauterine insemination may be right for individuals and couples who:
- Struggle to conceive naturally
- Intended fathers without male factor infertility
- Intended parents with healthy hormone levels.
- Intended mothers with cervical mucus
- Intended mothers with high-quality eggs
- Intended mothers with healthy fallopian tubes
- Intended mothers using a sperm donor
The IUI process
Performed by a fertility specialist, the IUI procedure places sperm within the intended mother’s uterus to increase the likelihood of reaching and fertilizing with eggs. The procedure can be used in conjunction with hormonal stimulation or a natural cycle and is a quick, painless procedure performed during ovulation. The process involves:
1. Ovarian stimulation
Ovarian stimulation starts 2-4 days into the woman's cycle. You'll start taking medication to facilitate egg development. You can either take the medication for typically 5 or 10 days. Gonadotropins are administered for 10 days and Letrozole for 5 days. Multiple visits to the doctor's office can be needed during this stage to keep track of ovarian development and to determine the next step.
2. Triggering ovulation
During the medicated IUI cycle ovulation is triggered by another medication. The trigger medication usually takes place on day 13. IUI is done on the day that is closest to ovulation with blood tests and ultrasound used to measure the luteinizing hormone. The IUI procedure is scheduled for 12-36 hours after the ovulation predictor shows a positive result.
3. Sperm preparation
The intended mother reports to the doctor's office for the insemination procedure. The sperm is washed and drawn into a catheter and the vagina and cervix are also cleaned. The physician also confirms if the sperm being used is correct and slides the catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. After the sperm has been successfully deposited, the catheter is removed.
For a successful IUI procedure, there needs to be a careful analysis of the semen. Sperm samples are taken from donors and evaluated for morphology, motility, and count. The sperm is prepared to increase the chances of insemination success and goes through a special washing procedure.
If necessary, sperm is collected and frozen at a collection office and shipped to the fertility center. It can also be collected fresh at home or ordered and delivered from a donor agency.
The doctor slides a catheter past your cervix into the uterus. The sperm gets injected into the uterine cavity and later the catheter is removed. It's a simple procedure that does not need any anesthesia and only lasts for a few minutes. You'll not feel any discomfort but maybe some mild cramping.
Intrauterine insemination success rates
The success rate for the procedure depends on several factors, which include age and underlying fertility challenges. Let's explore IUI success rates within these two segments.
Intended mother's age
As a woman ages, the conception rates drop due to egg quality. Because of this, IUI isn’t usually recommended for intended mothers over 40.
- For women in their early 30s or younger, the success rate is around 20-25%
- For women aged 30 to 35, the success rate of Intrauterine Insemination is typically 15-20%
- Women aged 35-40 have a 10% success rate of becoming pregnant after IUI. By their early 40s, the success rates drop to approximately 5%
Underlying fertility issues
Women who have irregular menstrual cycles or don't ovulate need medication to conceive. Through a diagnosis, the doctor may identify issues that can affect your success rate.
- If you are experiencing unexplained fertility with healthy eggs and two fallopian tubes, IUI success rates are around 7% to 10% per cycle. If you use IUI treatment in combination with fertility medications your success rate increases by 15-25%.
- A single open fertility tube means one of the fallopian tubes is blocked. Pregnancy can occur but the success rate depends on the location of the blockage. If the blockage is near the ovary, the IUI success rate is 11.7%. If it's close to the uterus, the chances of success are around 38.1%.
- If the intended father is experiencing male factor infertility, IUI success rates are around 16.9%.
Learn more about IUI and fertility treatments
Once the intended mother begins her ovulatory cycle your fertility doctor will schedule the IUI. Follow your doctor’s advice and instructions surrounding fertility medication and when to provide the sperm sample. Any delays or missteps within this process can reduce your chances of success.
To learn more about IUI success rates at our fertility clinic get in touch with our fertility specialists.
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