There are several options available for individuals or couples looking to conceive. One popular option involves intrauterine insemination (IUI).
During natural conception, sperm gets released in the vagina and has to travel through the cervix to reach the uterus, where it can have a chance to fertilize an egg — a process that only 5% of sperm typically accomplish.
IUI increases the chances of fertilization by placing prepared sperm directly in the uterus. This ensures that only high-quality sperm remains, and it’s closer to the fallopian tubes, making it easier for them to fertilize an egg released during ovulation.
Because IUI is less invasive and costly than other fertility treatments, it’s often a great first step when trying to become pregnant. Plus, it’s an excellent option for people using either partner or donor sperm.
Dr. Tony Tsai and The New York Fertility Center team determine if you’re a good candidate for intrauterine insemination and guide you through the steps required for this treatment, which requires more than a single visit.
1. Schedule evaluations and testing
Before undergoing IUI, you need to undergo evaluations and testing to confirm that you have at least one open fallopian tube and enough viable eggs to release from your ovaries. If you plan on using a partner’s sperm, they also undergo testing to look for fertility issues, including semen analysis.
During this stage, we also determine where you are in your ovulation cycle. In most cases, you can expect your IUI timeline to last approximately 28 days from start to finish — or the same length as an average menstrual cycle.
2. Take medications as directed
Once your IUI cycle begins, we could recommend oral or injectable medications for up to two weeks. These medicines increase the chance of ovulation and that multiple eggs release.
However, not everyone needs to use them before undergoing IUI.
3. Watch for ovulation
As you might suspect, timing is everything for IUI’s success. That’s because the sperm needs to be placed in the uterus as close as possible to ovulation in order to achieve fertilization.
To accomplish this, you often need to use an at-home ovulation predictor kit. This tool can help detect surges or releases of luteinizing hormone (LH), the chemical messenger that triggers an ovary to release an egg.
We could also schedule transvaginal ultrasounds to capture images of your ovaries and egg growth or administer medications to cause you to ovulate at an opportune time.
4. Schedule the procedure
Once your body shows signs of ovulation, it’s time to schedule your IUI. In most cases, these procedures occur within 1-2 days.
At this point, your partner also provides a semen sample, or a frozen donation gets thawed and prepared. These specimens get washed in a specialized way to separate highly active, healthy sperm from those of lower quality. Your likelihood of pregnancy increases when we use a small, highly concentrated sample of high-quality, healthy sperm.
Placing the prepared sample takes a few minutes and requires no pain relievers or medications. Dr. Tsai simply passes a long, thin catheter through the vagina into the uterus and injects the sperm with an attached syringe.
5. Undergo follow-up testing
After undergoing IUI, you can resume regular activity. However, you may notice some light spotting for 1-2 days.
It may be tempting to try taking a home pregnancy test immediately, but it’s important to wait at least two weeks to avoid inaccurate results.
We can perform a blood test approximately a week after your procedure to determine whether you successfully ovulated. Then, after two weeks, we perform a blood test to detect pregnancy hormones.
Depending on the results, we can offer personalized recommendations on whether to repeat IUI or try a different fertility treatment instead.
Could IUI help with your fertility challenges? Contact The New York Fertility Center to schedule a consultation with our reproductive endocrinologists in Downtown Flushing Queens or Flatiron in Manhattan, New York, today.