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IUI- Intrauterine Insemination

This method’s invention was a great boon for couples that couldn’t have a child due to specific health issues.

For instance, if the male partner’s sperm isn’t motile or doesn’t have the required speed, it will not be able to reach the egg and fertilise it. This method can help that couple.

If the woman has a high pH level in her cervix, that could also kill all the sperms, this method can help such couples too.

In simple words, this method can greatly help couples who cannot have a child due to low sperm speed or any other obstacle preventing the sperm from meeting the egg.

This process is a little different from natural conception. Here, natural intercourse for egg fertilisation is bypassed, and during your ovulation window, the most potent sperm are planted directly into your fallopian tube for maximum chances of fertilisation.

Natural Conception:

Successful conception depends on the fourth step. The sperm must travel to the fallopian tube and fertilise the egg. However, the journey isn’t always very smooth. On the contrary, the sperm has to cross several obstacles.

  • The vaginal environment: This is the first obstacle for the sperm. If the vaginal environment is highly acidic or the pH is very high, it can kill most of the potent sperms. Vaginal infections will also do the same.
  • The Cervix: This is a small opening joining the vagina with the uterus. The sperm must pass through this small tunnel-like structure filled with thick mucus. Hormonal imbalances and infections can make this mucus toxic for the sperm. Some women have a very thin cervical opening called the pinhole OS cervix. Even that can prevent sperm from passing by.
  • The Uterus: Once the sperm enters the uterus, it is propelled towards the fallopian tube by the contractions. However, the uterus sends the sperms towards both the fallopian tubes. The egg is only in one of them.
  • The Fallopian Tube: This is the narrow passage in which the actual fertilisation occurs. The motile sperm reach the egg and try to fertilise it.

Many women cannot conceive either because their male partners don’t have motile sperm that can reach the egg to fertilise it. Some don’t have a conducive environment in their reproductive tract to enable conception. IUI can be very helpful in both of these circumstances.

The IUI Process

In IUI, hormonal treatment is given to accelerate egg growth and maturity. The doctor will keep monitoring your egg growth in the ovaries. Once the egg has grown to the desired size, a hormonal pill or injection is given to induce ovulation.

Once ovulation has occurred, the egg is active and available for fertilisation only for the next 24 hours. That’s the window of opportunity.

This window is utilised to its fullest extent by planting potent semen directly into the uterus using a cannula.

The semen of the male partner is taken in advance and washed to obtain the most potent sperm. Once ovulation occurs, the doctor will plant the potent sperm directly into the uterus using the cannula, thus increasing the chances of fertilisation.

The biggest advantage of this process is that it reduces the struggle of the sperm to reach the egg.

Causes of Failure

You must understand that while this process reduces the distance to be travelled by the sperm, this procedure does nothing to improve the egg’s quality or the quality of the endometrium lining.

The only thing that this process can help you achieve better is a higher fertilisation rate. Because washed sperm is planted directly into the uterus in the ovulation window, the chances of successful fertilisation increase tremendously.

  • This procedure is helpful for women with a pinhole OS cervix as the sperm struggles to cross the narrow opening.
  • Women suffering from cervicitis can also benefit a lot from this procedure. Severe infection in the cervix can kill most of the sperm and make fertilisation difficult. IUI can be helpful in such circumstances. It can plant the sperm directly in the uterus and avoid sperm contamination in the cervix. However, even in such cases, the chances of pregnancy failures remain high because the infections in the cervix remain unaddressed. Addressing the root cause is important.

IUI can be a boon for women suffering from cervix structural issues. Sadly, it isn’t a generic fertility solution like most doctors treat it.

Usually, when 5-6 IUIs fail, women are advised IVF. Continuous IUI failures only raise the desperation in the minds of the couple trying for a child.

You must never forget that IUIs can have a high failure rate. Besides the fact that this process can help the sperm reach the egg on time and with greater accuracy, there is nothing more that this process can achieve.

Side Effects

IUI doesn’t have too many additional side effects besides the one that might come due to hormonal treatment given to you.

However, the side effects of hormonal treatment cannot be ignored. You must also remember that this procedure has a high failure rate. Hence, it might be repeated many times. Meaning your overall hormonal treatment period will increase.

Some of the commonly observed side effects are:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Light spotting
  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Painful or swollen ovaries
  • Tender breasts
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic discomfort

Actual Reasons for Concern

IUI, or artificial insemination, isn’t a new technique. This technique has been in use for decades now. Hence, the success rate and effectiveness of this technique are well known. Yet, this procedure is used on women who don’t need it.

Egg quality and endometrium health are the two major factors that cause most problems after the initial conception stage. Sadly, hormonal treatment doesn’t help with these two. On the contrary, excessive hormonal boost can even impair egg quality and endometrium health.

Most people easily agree to undergo IUI procedures because it is comparatively economical. However, its effectiveness and applicability in your case are more important than simply its cost.

Mindless repetitions of this procedure on women that don’t need it can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This occurs when too many fertility drugs are used repeatedly on a patient. These drugs can enlarge the ovaries and cause bloating and discomfort.

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