Many couples and individuals have success growing their families with intrauterine insemination (IUI), a simpler, less expensive fertility treatment option than in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here, we’ll explore the most common questions we receive about IUI to help you have an informed conversation with your fertility specialist.
What is IUI?
IUI, also known as artificial insemination, is an assisted reproductive technology in which semen is collected and the sperm are washed with a special solution and concentrated to collect the active, normal sperm. The sperm are then placed directly into the uterus using a thin flexible catheter. IUI can occur with or without the use of fertility medications. A medicated IUI cycle involves taking fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to mature and ovulate multiple eggs.
Who should consider IUI?
An IUI procedure can be helpful in several situations including:
- Mild male factor infertility
- Cervical or cervical mucous concerns
- Unexplained infertility
- Mild endometriosis
- Individuals or couples using donor sperm
- People with ovulation conditions who have responded well to fertility medications
What is the difference between IUI and IVF?
The key difference between IUI and IVF is that IUI involves fertilization inside the uterus and with IVF, fertilization takes place outside of the uterus in an a lab. During IVF, an individual takes fertility medication to stimulate then ovaries and then the mature eggs are retrieved during a minor surgical procedure. The eggs are the fertilized in the lab with prepared sperm. The resulting embryos can then be transferred to the uterus, or frozen for later use. IUI is typically less costly and less time-consuming than IVF.
Is IUI painful?
IUI may feel uncomfortable, but is a relatively pain-free procedure and does not require anesthesia. You might experience some cramping, which can feel similar to having a Pap smear. You may also have some spotting afterward due to irritation of the delicate lining of the cervix. This should go away after a few days. You will want you to avoid strenuous exercise, but you can return to your normal activities after the procedure.
What are the risks of IUI?
IUI is a low-risk procedure, but there are some concerns to be aware of. These can include:
- Becoming pregnant with twins/multiples
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): A condition where injectable fertility medications can cause the ovaries to respond too well and a large number of eggs mature and possibly release at once. When this occurs, the ovaries become swollen and painful. Fluid can accumulate in the abdomen and in some cases, OHSS can be life-threatening.
What should I expect during the IUI process?
You’ll first have an evaluation by your fertility doctor, along with fertility testing to help determine if IUI is an appropriate fertility treatment for you based on your individual situation and goals. Medications to stimulate your ovaries are usually started on days 3 to 5 of your menstrual cycle. Typically, around day 10 of your cycle, you will return to the clinic for a vaginal ultrasound and blood work to see how your body is responding to the medications. You may or may not do a “trigger shot” at home to induce ovulation. You will then come back to the clinic 1 to 2 days later for your IUI.
How soon after IUI can I take a pregnancy test?
You will return to the clinic for your pregnancy test (done via blood draw) 9 to 14 days after your procedure.
How much does IUI cost?
The average cost for natural IUI is around $2,000, while stimulated IUI is $3,050. There is an initial consult cost that ranges $255-500, as well as additional costs for medications and testing.
If you’re wondering if an IUI procedure is right for you, contact us today to meet with a CCRM Fertility specialist. We can help you navigate your questions and come up with a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve your family-building goals.