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What is IUI and How Does It Work?

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination, is a fertility treatment that involves placing prepared sperm directly into a woman’s uterus during her fertile window. The goal is to improve the chances of sperm reaching and fertilizing the egg, increasing the likelihood of pregnancy.

How Does It Work?

The journey of Intrauterine Insemination begins with an initial consultation with a fertility specialist. If chosen as a Fertility treatment to try it is a relatively simple and less invasive form of fertility.  During this appointment, the specialist will review the couple’s medical history, perform necessary tests, and discuss the best course of action.  If IUI is chosen as the Fertility treatment then the process will follow a series of steps to optimise the chances of successful conception:

Step 1: Ovarian Monitoring & Stimulation

Before performing IUI, the healthcare provider closely monitors the individual’s menstrual cycle and ovulation. This may involve tracking hormone levels through blood tests and/or using ultrasound to monitor the growth and development of ovarian follicles helping to confirm on the right time for the procedure to be done.   Depending on the outcomes of this tracking you may undergo ovarian stimulation. This involves taking medications to encourage the development and release of multiple eggs, thereby increasing the chances of fertilization.

Step 2: Sperm Collection & Preparation

The Male is often advised to not ejaculate for up to 3 days prior to the procedure to ensure a good sperm sample.  On the morning of the insemination a semen sample is collected from the male partner or sperm donor.  The sample is then processed in the lab to effectively enhance the sperm sample isolating and concentrating the the healthiest and sperm with best motility.  Motility being ability to swim.  This preparation helps increase the chances of sperms ability to fertilize.

Step 3: Insemination

Similar to what happens in a regular Gynaecological exam a Speculum will be inserted into the Vagina which will help provide access to the cervix.  The sperm sample will be entered into the end of a thin flexibile cather and this will guided by Healthcare provider gently through the cervix and into the uterus.  The procedure is typically painless but may cause minor discomfort or some mild cramping for some.

Once the catheter is in the correct position within the uterus, the sperm sample is slowly injected into the uterine cavity. The aim is to place the sperm closer to the fallopian tubes where fertilization typically occurs.

After the procedure, the catheter is carefully removed, and the individual is allowed to rest for a short period.

Step 4: Post-Procedure Care

You may be prescribed medications to help support the next stages.  Following the IUI procedure, you will need to wait for about two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. In order to have a positive pregnancy test result then there would have been successful fertilization and implantation of the embryo.

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