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Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, Is One Pathway to Pregnancy

Intrauterine insemination, also called IUI, can help people achieve pregnancy when trying to conceive at home isn’t working or isn’t possible. With this procedure, sperm are placed inside the uterus, close to a waiting egg, at exactly the right time in a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is a relatively simple assisted reproductive technology that can overcome certain barriers to fertility for couples and individuals. Our New Braunfels reproductive endocrinologist can perform this procedure right in our office, in most cases.

Who needs intrauterine insemination?

IUI is a popular choice for people who just need a little extra help conceiving a baby. Because it’s more affordable than IVF and can have good success rates in certain cases, our fertility specialists sometimes recommend it as a first-line treatment for patients with less-severe fertility challenges.

How IUI works

Before the insemination, the female partner will need to be closely monitored by our New Braunfels reproductive endocrinologist for the first part of her menstrual cycle. Through ultrasound examinations, your fertility specialist can see how many eggs are developing in the ovaries, and can also evaluate conditions inside the uterus to determine whether the procedure is likely to be successful.

For some women, medications are necessary to thicken the uterine lining and mature the eggs to prepare them for ovulation. Some women will need to take a “trigger shot” that causes ovulation, allowing for the procedure to be timed just right. Our goal is to create a healthy singleton pregnancy, so if there are too many eggs and a high risk of becoming pregnant with multiple babies, the procedure may need to be rescheduled.

The woman hoping to become pregnant will come into our office on the day of the procedure, along with her partner, if she has one. Sperm for the procedure can come from a male partner or a sperm donor. If fresh sperm are to be used, the male partner can produce a sample through masturbation in a private room at our on-site andrology laboratory or at home. For men with lower sperm counts, multiple semen samples can be frozen and banked ahead of time or back-to-back IUI may be recommended to increase the chances of success.

Before the intrauterine insemination, andrologists in our lab will “wash” the semen samples, producing a highly concentrated sample of only good-quality sperm capable of swimming to meet the egg. This sample is then placed inside a catheter for use in the procedure.

For the insemination, the woman will lie down on a procedure table in our office and place her feet in the stirrups, just like she would at a gynecological exam. Our physician will insert a speculum into the vagina, then guide the catheter through the cervix before injecting the sperm directly into the uterus. Other than mild cramping that some women may experience, this procedure is quick and painless. After resting for about 10 minutes, the woman is free to resume her normal activities. She will return about two weeks later for a pregnancy test.

Because IUI closely emulates natural conception, many women do not need continued medication to support a developing pregnancy. However, some may need to supplement with progesterone after the procedure to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Your physician will ensure that you have all the information and medications you may need to maximize your chances of success with intrauterine insemination.

Contact us to get started

If you are younger than 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year – or if you’re 35 or older and have been TTC for six months – it’s time to find out if IUI might help. We also welcome single mothers by choice and same-sex female couples who want to try for a baby using donor sperm.

To tailor the process to optimize results, we begin with fertility testing of the female who wishes to become pregnant, as well as any male partner who will contribute sperm. To learn more about IUI or to start the process, contact us to schedule an appointment with an experienced New Braunfels reproductive endocrinologist.