Investigating the Language of Fertility Treatment: IUI Explained
There are many different treatment protocols if you need help conceiving. IUI, also known as Intrauterine Insemination or artificial insemination, is one of the most common fertility treatment protocols used today.
What Is IUI Used For?
IUI's are used to treat many different infertility diagnoses, including:
- Ovulation irregularities
- Early stage endometriosis
- Unexplained infertility
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Sporadic menstrual cycles
- Mild Male Factor (sperm that may do better being collected, "washed" and placed into the uterus)
What Happens During an IUI Procedure?
IUI's can be done either with or without ovulation boosting medications. If an IUI is done with medications, then the ovaries are stimulated to produce a small amount of mature eggs. Unlike IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), where eggs are removed and then fertilized, with an IUI, the emphasis is on ensuring that there are only a few eggs that emerge. There is a possibility of multiple pregnancies when an IUI is done and more than just a few mature eggs emerge so there needs to be careful and consistent monitoring.
When the eggs are mature, there is a "trigger" shot- a medication that encourages the follicles (fluid filled sacs that contain the eggs) to release the eggs. Then the sperm is collected, via masturbation, and given to the fertility program's lab to be prepared. The sperm is carefully prepared and then introduced into the uterus via the cervix, using a small catheter.
Many fertility programs do two inseminations in each cycle to maximize the probability of the sperm reaching the eggs at the optimum time.
There is very little after care that needs to be done. The inseminations are typically pain free. There is no particular activities that you need to avoid or precautions that you need to take. Most fertility programs do advise against very aggressive physical exercise.
Some fertility protocols include medications after the IUI to further support early implantation.
And then there's the wait.
For more information about IUI's, please contact us. If you have been trying to conceive for one year, it's time to seek help.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.