Intrauterine Insemination commonly known as IUI is one of the many assisted methods of conception where concentrated and washed sperm is placed directly inside the uterus around the time when the ovary releases eggs to be fertilized. This is done in case of failed natural attempts or low sperm motility.
An Intrauterine Insemination is useful in such cases where the pregnancy has a good chance of going smoothly, but fertilization is proving to be a challenge.
For this, the sperm count, the motility and sperm quality has to be tested in men, and for women the general health of ovulation, patency of tubes, cervical factors, and presence of anti-sperm antibodies. need to be checked.
For men, it is recommended that they refrain from ejaculation for 2-3 days prior to the procedure. This improves the quality of sperm that is collected and increases the chances of conception. This is of course not applicable to cases of donor insemination.
Women need to avoid stress and keep track of their ovulation cycle.
It should be kept in mind, that the window of time for fertilization is just a little more than 12 hours from the release of the ovum. To maximize the chance of fertilization, the menstrual cycle is closely observed with the help of ovulation kits, blood tests, ultrasound scans and also basal body temperature. The colour and texture of the vaginal mucus are noted, as is the of the nose of a woman’s cervix.
Generally, to improve the chances of artificial insemination, drugs that help create a stimulated cycle may be used.
When sperm is supplied by a sperm bank, it will be quarantined and frozen and hence needs to be thawed before use. When an ovum is released, semen is introduced into the woman’s uterus, vagina or cervix, depending on the artificial insemination method being used. In some cases, the sperm is inserted twice, within the same treatment cycle.
The washed sperm is injected into the uterus with the help of a catheter. It must be noted that in case unwashed semen is used, it might cause uterine cramping with the semen being instinctively expelled as a foreign body. The body needs time to assimilate anything and hence it is advised that a patient rest for a minimum time of 15 minutes, after an IUI. This, of course, helps to increase the chance of fertilization.
Intrauterine Insemination is said to be a more effective method of artificial insemination, than Intra Cervical Insemination. This is because the introduction of sperm directly into the uterus increases the chance of fertilization considerably.
Here are some of the risks involved with IUI:
Inserting a catheter in the uterus can sometimes lead to mild vaginal bleeding, which doesn’t really have any adverse effect on the pregnancy.
IUI is not commonly linked to multiple pregnancies, but the chances can increase due to the use of ovulation-inducing medication.
There’s a minor chance of the cervix getting injured during the procedure if not performed by an experienced professional. This might cause bleeding or spotting, which could lead to some amount of infection.