WHAT IS IUI (INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION)?
IUI, sometimes known as “artificial insemination,” is an outpatient procedure in which an expert will inserts sperm from a male partner or sperm donor directly into a female patient’s uterus. IUI improves the probability of a successful pregnancy. How? by ensuring that the sperm will inseminate at the time of ovulation—however it is less impactful, less invasive, and less expensive than IVF.
Who needs IUI?
Both IUI and IVF treatment duration can take about two weeks, but an IVF cycle is more involved than an IUI cycle. Let’s go more in depth:
THE IUI PROCESS
An IUI cycle begins with the first day of your period. Then, for about 12–14 days, the physician will use bloodwork & ultrasound to keep track of your menstrual cycle, ensuring that an egg is maturing properly for ovulation. Ovulation is when a mature egg breaks free from the ovary and begins its journey down the fallopian tubes, where it can be fertilized in an attempt at pregnancy.
IUI takes place on the day of ovulation (either just before or just after ovulation). The first step of the IUI is for a male partner or sperm donor to provide a sample. The physician will make sure that only healthy sperm is isolated to increase chances of fertilization. Finally, the sperm sample is inserted into the uterus and fertilization process takes place naturally.
Women who undergo IUI can also have their ovaries stimulated and take a trigger shot to release one egg. Then insemination can occur. This stimulation process can take about 10 days.
THE IVF PROCESS
IVF is most successful when doctors attempt fertilization on a larger number of eggs, a female patient is typically placed on a course of injectable medication to stimulate ovaries to encourage her body to create multiple eggs in one cycle. These medications are taken for approximately 8–12 days, and the patient is simultaneously monitored through ultrasounds and bloodwork to make sure the medication is functioning properly.
When the eggs are mature, they are taken from the patient’s ovaries in a brief outpatient surgical procedure, during which the female partner is placed under sedation. The male partner provides a semen sample; the sperm from his sample is combined with the female partner’s eggs, and then watched carefully by an embryologist for about five days. The embryos which are healthy are then placed back into the uterus to conceive successfully, or can be frozen to use in a later pregnancy attempt.