A fertility clinician may recommend an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure if the reason for infertility is inexplicable. It may also be a suitable assisted reproductive technology if you have ovulation problems or your partner has been diagnosed with impotency. It may also be an option if you do not have a male partner.
Whatever the reason your clinician recommended this treatment, it is important to understand the steps involved in the procedure before you opt for it. Here is a step-by-step guide to IUI for the female and the male partner.
For the woman
Necessity of fertility drugs: You need to talk to your clinician about whether it is necessary to use fertility drugs with this treatment. While it can boost the production of eggs, it may also have certain side effects. If you have the risk of developing problems due to the drugs, it is better to get the treatment without these.
Identification of ovulation period: It may be possible to predict the time of ovulation from blood or urine tests. Your clinician may also recommend a predictor kit for this purpose. However, if you were using fertility drugs, a vaginal ultrasound scan may be necessary to monitor the development of the eggs.
Insertion of the sperm: During the procedure, the doctor inserts a special instrument, called the speculum, in your vagina to keep the walls apart. Next, the doctor inserts a small, flexible tube, called the catheter, into your uterus through the cervix. This tube is used to insert the sperm obtained from the male partner or donor.
For the man
Collection of sperm sample: The male partner or donor needs to provide a sperm sample on the same day the female gets the IUI treatment. A fertility clinician may recommend you to abstain from any sexual activities prior to this day as it may affect the quality of the sperm produced on the day of the treatment.
Preparation of the sperm: The sperm collected from the male is washed and filtered with the use of specific equipment designed for the purpose. This is necessary to separate the sperm from the fluid surrounding it. Next, the fast-moving sperm is separated from the slow moving sperm.
Use of the sperm: The prepared sperm is placed inside the catheter and used for the procedure. The male partner can provide the sperm only if the sperm quality and number is adequate for the procedure. Otherwise, a couple may have to opt for a donor to provide the sperm for the treatment.
Now that you have an idea about the steps involved in the procedure, the next question is – what are the chances of success with this treatment? Determining an exact figure may not be possible due to the unique circumstances of each case.
However, the success of this assisted reproductive technology depends on a number of factors such as the age and health condition of the partners, the quality and motility of the sperm, the quality of the egg and the use of fertility drugs. Your clinician can help assess the chances of success in your case.
Talking to a clinician may not be the only thing you need to do. It is also important to talk to an expert counsellor before you get the treatment. This will be of help before, during and after the treatment, especially if this fails.
If the clinician finds it appropriate, he/she may recommend a cycle of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for you. The IVF treatment goes a step further; it involves the collection of the egg from the female partner or a donor and the collection of sperm from the male partner or a donor and mixes the two in a laboratory culture dish for fertilisation.