Understanding Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – A Personal Account

On a rainy Monday in mid-July we received a call from a lady from our neighboring county – Bangladesh, asking for help! She wanted to talk to our reproductive specialist about her case. Also, she informed us (to our delight) that she has full faith in our treatment procedure as a close relative of hers had conceived earlier with IVF done at our Fertility Centre in Kolkata. Yes, the nature of her approach made our reproductive counselor sanguine that hers was a case to be dealt with much more cautiously. Why? Because, the lady was in her borderline (aged 35 at that time) and had already underwent two successive miscarriages and she even disclosed that she had underwent a rehab owing to the deep psychological trauma she faced. She sounded desperate over the phone, to have a baby, as soon as she could. We suggested an appointment with our senior reproductive medicine specialist at the earliest. We extended all our assistance for the couple to obtain the medical visa and in a month’s time she came over to our Fertility Clinic in Kolkata with her husband for consultation. Her past medical reports showed that the lady had problems with fibroids in her uterus which blocked smooth pregnancy earlier. Surgically removed, surprisingly she was in good shape to conceive. Yet, our reproductive medicine specialist suggested not to take any further risk.

IUIAs with all women, her biological clock was ticking faster towards menopause and she had only a handful of eggs left. So the best ways suggested for her was IUI and IVF. IUI or Intrauterine Insemination was something alien to her at first although she knew about IVF or In-Vitro Fertilization.  She was briefed amply about IUI. Our specialist made necessary tests and referred her IUI first and then (if she’s still unable to conceive) to go for IVF. Now, it is an open secret that success rate of IVF is much higher than IUI owing to the fact that in IUI sperm gets into the uterus of the female through a catheter and the vaginal canal being very acidic the chances of the ‘transferred’ sperm surviving the treacherous journey through the canal and into the uterus is thin compared to IVF. However, IVF is only suggested as the last resort where the female reproductive system is altogether incapable of conceiving naturally. In our patient’s case, her tests showed positive conditions for natural conception thus our reproductive specialist went on with IUI.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – The Process – The Journey – The Result

As mentioned above, IUI is supposed to take the guesswork out of the conception process by eliminating the risks of sperms not being able to swim across the acidic vaginal canal and into the uterus to fertilize the egg, released almost during the same time span of the sperms’ entry, into the uterine environment. However, IUI being an ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedure, from the very first appointment our expert reproductive specialist could plan out the route map of the treatment. In order to stimulate her ovulation almost at the same time when her husband’s sperms would be transferred to her vaginal canal through a catheter (the IUI process), special medication was referred a week in advance to the lady. With an elaborate preparation followed by medication and tests, the D-day came. Her husband was asked to give semen sample out of which our expert andrologist and lab technicians collected and washed the sperms. The seminal fluid and sub-standard sperms were removed and the best specimen were concentrated. The washed sperms were physically introduced inside the uterine canal of the lady by means of a catheter. The whole process was done by our expert female reproductive specialist aided by a team of seasoned nurses and lab assistants. The procedure took no longer than 30 minutes. The lady was asked to take pregnancy test in 2 weeks’ time and visit again. Voila! She was pregnant! It was a miracle for her, but to us this was just one of the hundreds of success stories we have in store to share with you!

Why Did We Recommend IUI?

You might think that IUI is “easier said than done.” True, to some extent, but imagine the hardship of infertility and the mental trauma faced by thousands of couples who are unable to enjoy the bliss of parenthood! IUI or Intrauterine Insemination is no less a magic remedy for them. IVF might enjoy a higher success rate but it is after all the last resort for infertile couples to conceive.  IUI on the other hand is more cost efficient and a less invasive ART Procedure which increases the chances of fertilization among couples, who are unable to conceive naturally owing to their physiological or psychological problems.

Broadly, one of the following factors necessitate a patient to undergo IUI –

  • An unexplained infertility
  • Cervical mucus and other problems of the cervix which hinders sperm entry into the uterus
  • Scar tissue formation resulting from a history of surgical operation of the cervix or the cervical canal
  • Male infertility and impotency (ejaculatory dysfunction)

Success Rates of IUI

As per the American Pregnancy Association – “If a couple has the IUI procedure performed each month, success rates may reach as high as 20% per cycle depending on variables such as female age, the reason for infertility, and whether fertility drugs were used, among other variables.” Moreover, today IUI is also being done with donor sperms in couples where the male partner is infertile owing to factors like Azoospermia (a medical condition of a man not having any measurable level of sperm in his semen) and Oligospermia (deficiency of sperm cells in semen) and so on.

However, our reproductive specialists usually do not recommend IUI if and when the patient registers one of the following conditions in her medical history –

  • Patient suffering from any disease of the fallopian tubes
  • Patient with a moderate to severe case of endometriosis
  • Patient with a history of pelvic infections or any major invasive surgery

Our patient – the lady from Bangladesh didn’t had any of these above medical conditions and hence we proceeded with IUI with the reservation of IVF, if she doesn’t conceive through IUI. In a word, we had the backup plan ready! Thankfully, it was the end to her arduous journey of gaining motherhood. Now a proud parent they’re one of GENOME’S most cherished advocates. (Name not disclosed confirming to our non-disclosure terms).

For more inspiring and informative posts on infertility treatments, fertility and pregnancy knowhow and success stories, stay connected to the GENOME Blog.

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