Couples who struggle with fertility problems such as poor sperm quality or inhospitable cervical mucus can often benefit from artificial insemination. This is generally accomplished through intrauterine insemination (IUI), which makes it possible to bypass the cervix and cervical mucus and deliver a concentration of living, healthy, motile sperm directly into the uterus.
The IUI procedure is a simple process that takes very little time and involves minimal discomfort. Just before ovulation takes place, the sperm is collected and processed. Once prepared, the sperm will be deposited into the uterus by means of a small catheter that is placed through the cervix.
It is extremely important to correctly time this procedure so that artificial insemination coincides with ovulation. The woman's natural cycle can be monitored by blood testing, ultrasound examinations, or with the use of a special kit that detects increased luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. A spike in luteinizing hormone precedes ovulation and indicates when a woman is most fertile. In some cases, fertility medications may be used to induce ovulation as well.
At FCI, we perform IUIs seven days a week. Your husband/partner can collect his specimen at home in the sterile container that we provide, or he can use the collection rooms available at each of our offices. The specimen should ideally get to us within one hour of collection at home. If you have to bring in the specimen, you will spend more time in the office waiting for the sperm to be prepared. If he can bring it in or collect in the office, you spend far less time in the office.
It takes approximately one hour to process the sperm. Sperm washing is performed to separate out the sperm from the debris and chemicals in the semen that don't belong inside the uterus. Then a "swim up technique" is used to separate out the better swimmers to improve the motility of the specimen.
During the IUI procedure, a thin, soft plastic catheter is used to deposit a few concentrated drops of millions of highly motile sperm into the top of the uterus. This procedure takes one to two minutes and is generally painless or very mildly uncomfortable. Thousands of motile sperm will make it to the fallopian tubes. Then we have you rest, lying down for 10 minutes in order to minimize uterine contractions. After that there are no restrictions.
Most studies indicate that with Clomid® therapy, one IUI per month is almost as good as two, but there are exceptions such as when using frozen sperm. If the man's sperm count is reasonable we will often suggest two IUIs per month. One week after the IUI, we check progesterone levels and supplement it with natural progesterone as needed. Then, we perform a pregnancy test two weeks after the IUI.
To learn more about how our IUI treatment can help you come closer to parenthood, contact us today to schedule an appointment.