Getting the Best Results
There is more to intrauterine insemination than just performing the artificial insemination. A variety of factors can influence the success of an IUI cycle. Here is a look at some of them.
Timing is everything when it comes to IUI. Once an egg has been released from your ovaries, it only has 24 in which it can be fertilized. This means that insemination must coincide with a woman’s ovulation. Women dong a natural cycle of IUI will likely use home ovulation predictor kits to detect the LH surge that occurs shortly before ovulation. However, these tests can only tell you that ovulation is imminent, not precisely when it will happen. In other instances, ovulation can be more certainly assumed if fertility drugs are being used, as these medications require more detailed monitoring of the ovaries and hormones.
Another reason why timing is so important in IUI is because sperm used in this procedure is washed. Normally, unprepared sperm can live for as long as five days in fertile cervical mucus. However, washed sperm is thought to live for no more than 24 hours, with six to 12 hours being the average. Because washed sperm has such a short life span, performing IUI as close as possible to the time of ovulation will help increase the chances of success with this procedure.
Number of Cycles
Since the exact timing of ovulation can often be somewhat difficult to pinpoint, your fertility specialist may suggest performing a second IUI anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after the first insemination. This can improve your chances of success by ensuring that sperm is placed in your uterus close to the time of ovulation. Some fertility doctors may even recommend you further boost your chances by having intercourse at home in between inseminations.
The amount of active, healthy sperm in a man’s semen sample is often one of the biggest influences on IUI success. Not surprisingly, the higher the sperm count, the more likely it is that the procedure will be successful. However, there does not seem to be much difference in success rates between men with good-average sperm counts and men who have high sperm counts. In general, IUI done with a good-average to high sperm count carries a success rate between 15% and 20% per cycle.
While some couples will do IUI without the aid of fertility drugs, others will choose this option either out of necessity or to increase the number of egg follicle they develop in a cycle. Using medications can boost your chances of success, as there will presumably be more eggs available for fertilization, but it doesn’t always guarantee success.
If you are using fertility medications during your IUI cycle, you may want or need to try a few cycles using oral drugs, like Clomid, before moving on to injectable infertility drugs. However, if are still not able to conceive after three or four cycles using injectables, it may be time to consider IVF.