How to Increase Your Odds of IUI Success
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment where sperm are “washed” in a special solution and the concentrated sperm are then placed directly into the uterus with a catheter (thin tube). Since IUI is more affordable and less invasive than in vitro fertilization (IVF), it is often the first course of fertility treatment most patients would like to explore to grow their families.
Who benefits from IUI?
- Couples with no known cause of infertility
- Couples with mild to moderate decreased semen quality
- Women with ovulatory disorders who respond well to fertility medication
- Women with mild endometriosis
- Same-sex couples using donor sperm
- Single women using donor sperm
When is IUI not recommended?
IUI is not recommended in the following instances:
- Women with moderate or severe endometriosis
- Women with fallopian tubes that are severely damaged or blocked
- Women with a history of pelvic infections or pelvic scar tissue
- Men who don’t produce sperm or have a very low count
How successful IUI is for you depends on your age, your fertility diagnosis, and how long you’ve been trying to conceive. While there’s no silver bullet to help you become pregnant after IUI, there are steps you can take before, during, and after your IUI to give you the best chances of success.
Before your IUI
Avoid strenuous exercise
Between days 3 through 5 of your menstrual cycle, many women will take medications to stimulate your ovaries to grow eggs. Your ovaries enlarge during this time due to the hormones and this can cause you to feel bloated or have some pain in your pelvis. While you want to continue regular exercise, it’s better to stick to lower impact, less strenuous exercises such walking and swimming, or light yoga.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains can go a long way in optimizing your body for pregnancy. You’ll want to avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine intake (200 mg daily is okay). There are also vitamins and supplements you can take to improve your odds of success, in addition to a prenatal vitamin.
Make sure to bring a list of questions to ask your fertility specialist at your consult. It’s important to understand the medications you’re taking and how to use them, any activity restrictions, and how the procedure is going to work.
The day of your IUI
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully
Prior to your IUI, you’ll receive instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Many fertility doctors want you to come in with a full bladder and will let you know how much water you need to drink beforehand. You’ll also coordinate with your male partner if you’re using a fresh semen sample.
Don’t worry about gravity
While the myth that you should raise your legs/hips in the air after intercourse of IUI continues to perpetuate, the science tells us otherwise. Sperm is placed right into your uterus for the insemination and since sperm do not rely on gravity, there is no concern that sperm will trickle out when you stand up and walk around.
Know when to call your doctor
While you shouldn’t focus on leaking sperm, you do need to know what to look for after your IUI for signs to call your doctor. It’s normal to feel bloating and cramping, breast soreness, fatigue, light spotting, and pelvic discomfort. But if you’re experiencing blurred vision, severe pelvic pain, sudden weight gain of 5 pounds or more, or feeling short of breath, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.
After your IUI
The wait before your pregnancy test can seem daunting. Take time to focus on yourself by talking to a therapist, spending time with your partner, getting a massage, or journaling. Do activities that you enjoy or calm your mind.
Avoid hot baths
You’ll want to skip hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas until you get cleared by your doctor. Heat can interfere with the implantation process, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Manage your expectations
As with other fertility treatments, there’s a chance your IUI won’t work. Staying positive can help many people get through the wait, but know if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean future IUIs won’t. It also doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.
If you’re interested in using IUI to get pregnant, contact us to schedule a new patient consultation with a CCRM Fertility specialist.
Written by Dr. Lauren Sundheimer, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM Fertility Orange County