Fertility Blog

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Q&A with Dr. Elizabeth Kennard

What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that can help couples get pregnant when infertility is a problem. It is often the first approach to treating couples with unexplained infertility or when your partner has a low sperm count or sperm motility. It can also be used with donor sperm. Below we interview Fertility Expert Dr. Elizabeth Kennard about IUI.

Q: What is the success rate for IUI?

A: The success rate depends on many things including the sperm quality as well as the woman’s age and whether her tubes are open. The range is up to 20% per cycle. Most infertility patients would have a rate lower than that, somewhere between 10-15%

Q: What are the risks of IUI?

A: There is minimal risk. Theoretically it might be possible to develop a reaction or an infection but this is extremely rare

Q: Will IUI succeed on the first try?

A: Because the success rates are no higher than 20%, it usually doesn’t work on the first try, but that doesn’t mean it won’t eventually work.

Q: Is it painful?

A: Most women say the IUI feels a lot like a pap smear.

Q: What are the side effects?

A: Sometimes women have some cramping or a spot of bleeding afterwards. Most women don’t really have any symptoms

Q: How does IUI work with ovulation medications?

A: IUI works to increase the number of sperm that reach the upper uterus and fallopian tubes. Ovulation increases the number or quality of oocytes available to be fertilized. They work together.

Q: Which is better IUI or IVF for a woman aged 40?

A: It’s an individual decision, but in general an older woman should move quickly to pursue pregnancy. The success rate for a single cycle of IVF is higher than a single cycle of IUI but there are costs and other considerations. In some cases is not unreasonable to try IUI for a few months before moving to IVF.

Q: What is sperm washing and why is it done?

A: The ejaculate contains many things besides strong healthy sperm. There are dead or damaged sperm, there are urine proteins, bacteria and there is semen itself, the fluid that contains the sperm. Only healthy sperm could swim up into the uterus after intercourse, all these other things always stay in the vagina and then come out later. So the sperm washing procedure is designed to separate the strong healthy sperm from the rest of the ejaculate.

Q: Should I lie down after IUI to improve conception?

A: yes, but only for a few minutes.

Q: Do you have any tips to improve conception with IUI?

A: Just the normal recommendations for a healthy pregnancy. Don’t smoke, try to be normal weight, take your prenatal vitamins.