IUI fertility treatment
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment carried out to help with certain types of fertility problems. It works by placing sperm inside the uterus to increases the odds of sperm reaching the fallopian tubes and pregnancy occurring.
Unlike other fertility treatments like IVF, IUI treatment doesn’t fertilise the egg, it just gives sperm a better chance of reaching the egg. It improves the chance of fertilisation, but for fertilisation to happen the sperm must still reach the egg on its own.
It’s often a cheaper option and is recommended to patients with low sperm count or low sperm mobility.
Who is IUI treatment for?
If you’re interested in IUI, you will need to discuss it with your doctor first and arrange a physical exam to see if it’s suitable for you.
Male fertility problems can usually be treated with IUI. Low sperm count, and mobility can be treated by a process called sperm washing. During the sperm washing process sperm is separated from the seminal fluid and collected.
A washed semen specimen can be safely stored for a couple of hours before treatment begins.
Fertility specialists can determine whether you’re a good candidate for IUI treatment by testing, analysing and assessing many different factors, and your personal circumstances.
Who shouldn’t have IUI treatment?
There are many factors which could mean IUI isn’t suitable for you. Before IUI treatment can begin your doctor will need to check that there are no blockages or problems with the fallopian tubes. This is a key requirement for the treatment to succeed because blockages can prevent the sperm placed in the uterus from reaching the eggs.
IUI for male infertility
A sperm analysis will need to be carried out before IUI treatment, if there is suspicion of male fertility problems. A sample will need to be provided so the doctor can run some analysis to count and measure the mobility of sperm.
If low sperm count is detected several samples may be needed to collect enough for the procedure.
Alternative treatments to IUI
As mentioned before, there are some couples who will not be eligible for IUI treatment. This will be down to a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, some women having severe endometriosis or problems with their fallopian tubes. Some men, on the other hand, may not be able to provide enough specimens, meaning statistically the chances of conception is too low through IUI.
Fortunately, other fertility treatments may be an option. Your doctor will be able to recommend alternative treatments to suit your needs. These alternatives may include fertility drug treatments like Clomifene or Tamoxifen, Surgical treatment or assisted conception like IVF. In some cases, to maximise the chance of pregnancy a combination of treatments may be suggested.
Getting started with IUI
Trying for a baby and not seeing the results over a long period of time can be a distressing and difficult time for some couples. If after a year of trying, pregnancy hasn’t occurred, a physical examination may be required to assess the situation to identify a cause.
IUI treatment is a popular fertility treatment, but before you can have IUI treatment you will need to be checked by a doctor. They will carry out a health examination to diagnose the problem and make sure you’re in good health to support a pregnancy.
Once you have been given the greenlight to go ahead with IUI treatment your doctor may start you on fertility drugs to increase ovulation. The production of eggs will be monitored carefully to check the eggs are healthy and to determine the right time for sperm to be injected.
Sperm will need to be prepared and collected before the procedure. The sperm samples collected will be washed, meaning the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid. The benefit to this approach is that it’s possible to build up a concentration of active and healthy sperm cells that can reach the egg. Additionally, any toxic chemicals in the sperm that may negatively affect the pregnancy can be removed.
Optimal time for the injection of sperm will be decided by your doctor.
What’s involved in IUI treatment?
The procedure is straight forward and involves the following steps:
- Ovulation drug treatments begin to regulate the production of eggs
- Sperm sample is provided and washed ready for injection
- The prepared sperm is injected into the uterus by your doctor.
Risks of IUI treatment
IUI treatment unfortunately doesn’t guarantee results and the experience of going through the process can be difficult and emotionally demanding.
There are some risk and side effect associate with IUI. These include:
- Medication used during the procedure can cause headaches and hot flushes
- It’s fairly common to have multiple births, such as twins or more
- The embryo may implant in the fallopian tube
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – the development of too many eggs in the ovaries
Things to consider before fertility treatment
Choosing to have IVF treatment requires a lot of careful thought and consideration. You need to really understand the reasons for choosing the fertility treatment you want and set realistic expectations of the outcome.
Once your mind is made up, are you confident that you are fully prepared for the treatment?
Here are some things you should think about:
- Is the procedure affordable?
- How many attempts do you have?
- What is the chance of success?
- What is the best treatment option for my condition?
Cost of IUI treatment
The cost of fertility treatment can vary based on many factors. One of the key determining factors is the treatment itself. Which fertility treatment do you need and does it need to be combined with other treatments to maximise the chance of conception? The place you choose to have the treatment will also affect the cost of your treatment.
The cost of IUI treatment in the UK ranges from £850 to £1,800 with an average mean cost of £1,300.
Other similar treatments like IVF are considerably more expensive, ranging from £3,000 to £5,900 with an average mean cost of £3,500.
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About Fertility Treatment
Fertility treatments are available to couples that have been trying to get pregnant for a substantial period of time, but haven’t succeeded. There are many types of fertility treatments available to those experiencing fertility problems. The treatment available to you will depend on the cause of the problem and what is available at the clinic providing the treatment.
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