Preparing Your Body for IUI
Why Do We Need IUI?
You've been trying to conceive for more than a year with no success. The emotional toll is growing and you and your partner have decided to seek help in order to conceive. Depending upon the issues that are causing the problems, IUI (intrauterine insemination) may be suggested as a treatment for infertility. IUI will be suggested when:
· Your partner's semen analysis shows below-average sperm concentration, weak motility (movement), or abnormalities in sperm size and shape (morphology). This is called mild male factor infertility or subfertility.
· The fluid that is produced by the cervix, designed to help the sperm swim to the waiting egg, is too thick for the sperm to swim through. Cervical factor infertility can be addressed effectively by IUI because it passes the cervix and inserts the sperm directly into the uterus.
· You're allergic to your partner's sperm. An allergic reaction that causes burning, inflammation and discomfort when your partner ejaculates into your vagina presents an issue. Use of a condom helps with the allergy but prevents pregnancy.
· Unexplained infertility, when a specific reason can't be found, is a reason for IUI treatment, often using fertility drugs alongside the IUI procedure.
· IUI is used when there is a need for donor sperm for conception.
As with all invasive procedures, there are certain risks involved. There is a slight chance of infection as a result of the procedure. The biggest risk of IUI is a multiple pregnancy, particularly when the treatment is coordinated with fertility drugs that induce ovulation. Multiple pregnancies have inherent risks: low birth weight of the babies and early labor are common.
It's All in the Timing
In order for the procedure to be effective, things have to be properly and carefully coordinated.
1. The semen sample from your partner has to be prepared (or a frozen sample has to be thawed if donor sperm is being used). To prepare the sperm, it has to be washed in a way that separates the high quality sperm from the seminal fluid and from lower quality sperm. Pregnancy chances increase when high-quality, highly concentrated sperm is used for the IUI.
2. Timing of ovulation is crucial to the success of IUI. In order to ensure the placement of the sperm into the uterus occurs at the right time the doctor may monitor you for signs of impending ovulation by using transvaginal ultrasound so he can see the egg growth in
the ovaries. If the doctor doesn't use ultrasound, he may suggest using an ovulation predictor kit at home to determine ovulation.
3. Optimal timing is coordinated with the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). If the IUI is being done in time with your normal cycle, then you will have the IUI the day after the surge. When using ovulating-inducing medications, an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may be given to force ovulation. Insemination will be the next day.
Be Prepared - It's More than a Motto
In order to be properly prepared for this procedure, both you and your partner should evaluate your lifestyle and health long before the date of insemination. Weeks (months is better) before, efforts to get your cycle into balance, if it is out of balance, and treatments to address health issues are important to have established. Female reproductive health and male reproductive health problems and concerns can be addressed with natural or alternative methods of healthcare. By establishing good health before treatments begin, your body will have what it needs to minimize the effects of the drugs you may have to take and, when you conceive, your body is ready for the pregnancy. This goes for both you and your partner.
Creating good eating habits that include switching to organically grown foods, if you're not already eating that way, omitting coffee, alcohol and cigarettes from your daily routines, and ensuring you are getting enough vitamins and minerals all help your body become strong and prepared for the IUI and the subsequent pregnancy you hope to accomplish.
Calming Your Mind
Along with your physical health needs, there is mental and emotional health preparation that should be addressed. IUI and any other form of ART can be very stressful and, as we all know, going into any type of procedure feeling relaxed always enhances the chances of success. Feeling relaxed and free of stress is favorable to conception. High levels of stress and depression can cause ovulation irregularities and abnormal sperm development. Women who are infertile tend to have the same severity of depression as women who are facing life-threatening diseases, and this same depression can also exacerbate infertility. It's a catch-22.
To help yourself emotionally through IUI, there are some things you can do:
· Find the kind of relaxation technique that suits you best: Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga work well. Or, try some relaxation CDs.
· Go out on a date and talk about something other than IUI. Take a break with your partner from the procedure's demands and just have fun.
· Consider the fact that the appointments and procedures are demanding and give each other time and space to recover afterward.
· Use positive thought, affirmations and visualization to "see" what's happening in your body.
Preparing for IUI is a process. If you start early, you'll be ahead of the game. You can learn more about the IUI procedure and the various aspects of it in this section.