Before having the insemination procedure, you may take fertility medicines that stimulate ovulation. Semen is collected from your partner or a donor. It goes through a process called “sperm washing” that collects a concentrated amount of healthy sperm from the semen.
Then your doctor puts the sperm right into your uterus. Pregnancy happens if sperm fertilizes your egg, and the fertilized egg implants in the lining of your uterus.
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The procedure is pretty simple, though it’s normal to feel nervous about it. It will be done in your fertility clinic. (You don’t need to go to the hospital for the procedure)
If you’re using a sperm donor, the donor sperm will be thawed and prepared.
If not, your partner will come into the clinic that day with you and give a semen sample. The semen sample is achieved via masturbation. (Similar to how a semen analysis is done.)
If your partner will be out of town or, if he had difficulty providing a sample in the past your partner may provide the semen sample before IUI day. In this case, if the sample is frozen, it will be thawed and prepared.
Semen contains more than just sperm. Your doctor will put the semen through a special “washing” procedure. This takes out the impurities and leaves only what’s needed for conception.
For the procedure itself, you will lie down on a gynecological table, similar to the ones used for your yearly exam.
A catheter a small, thin tube will be placed in your cervix. You may have some mild cramping, similar to what you might feel during a pap smear.
The specially washed semen will then be transferred into your uterus via the catheter.
The catheter is removed, and you’re done!
Your doctor may suggest you remain lying horizontally for a short while after the procedure, or you may be able to get up right away.
In either case, you don't need to worry about the sperm falling out when you stand up. The sperm are transferred directly into your uterus. They aren't going anywhere but up, to a (hopefully) waiting egg!
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After the IUI procedure, you may be prescribed progesterone. This is usually taken via a vaginal suppository.
About a week after the IUI, your doctor may order blood work. He will check your progesterone levels, estrogen, and (maybe) hCG levels.
Ten to 14 days post IUI, your doctor may order a pregnancy blood test. Or, he may tell you to take an at-home test.
Waiting to find out if the treatment was successful can be very stressful. Take good care of yourself!
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When you undergo the IUI procedure, you can expect to go through the following three steps:
The visit for intrauterine insemination takes about 15 to 20 minutes and is usually done in a doctor's office or clinic. The IUI procedure itself takes just a minute or two and requires no medications or pain relievers. Overall, the process usually takes an hour and a half.
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To increase your chances of success, a cycle of IUI should be done just after ovulation. Ovulation usually happens 12 to 16 days before your next period. This can vary if you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
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Success rates for intrauterine insemination (IUI) are more difficult to determine than IVF success rates as they depend on the cause of infertility and whether fertility drugs are used to stimulate egg production. Artificial insemination success rates also depend on a woman’s age, fallopian tube status (must have at least one healthy, open tube), and the sperm sample.
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While you are mentally preparing for fertility treatment, use this time to also prepare your body. Treat food as fuel and opt for healthier alternatives when possible. Reach for an apple or handful of almonds when that mid-day hunger strikes and trade a side of french fries for seasonal veggies or a salad.
Take a look at some of our online tools that we offer to help you as you are preparing for fertility treatment:
Whether it’s clutter or pounds, neither one helps when it comes to preparing for fertility treatment. Excess clutter in your life can cause anxiety and unwanted stress. Tackle tasks around your home or office one thing at a time.
You don’t have to be at the gym every morning at 5 a.m., but it’s always good for your mind, body, and spirit to incorporate some form of cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine. Even if your schedule makes it difficult to get to the gym, try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, and walk instead of drive to pick up lunch during the day. Even a small weight loss can have a big gain when it comes to your fertility.
Feed your soul by giving back to the community. Nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than knowing we really helped someone else in need. Let someone with only a few items go in front of you in the grocery line, offer to help an elderly neighbor, or volunteer at a local community shelter. What you give out, you will receive back.
Realize that not every day is going to be a good day, and that’s ok. Try and focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t. When you get to the finish line and look back on your journey, you will hopefully agree that it was all worth the ride.
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