Is It Time To Consider IUI?

Starting or building a family is a beautiful experience. The path to pregnancy, however, is never a straight line. For some, the challenges of infertility are all too clear. Doctors will sometimes recommend intrauterine insemination (IUI) as a first intervention. IUI is a form of fertility treatment where a medical professional places a prepared sperm sample directly into the woman’s uterus. This procedure usually happens around the time of ovulation and may include hormone medication. While effective, there are many cases where IUI fails. At this point, a doctor can recommend assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to increase the chances of success.


Why IUI can sometimes fail

The goal of IUI is to increase the chances of pregnancy by helping the sperm meet and fertilize the egg. In many situations, IUI can work around male-factor infertility challenges. On average, an IUI cycle has a 7-38% success rate range. However, there are multiple reasons why the process may fail to produce results. IUI requires accuracy, so poor timing and ovulation issues can prevent fertilization. Some women may have undetected conditions like endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Sperm quality concerns, such as motility or morphology, can lead to unsuccessful cycles. Age also plays a factor, as women may have diminished ovarian reserves, which can reduce the chances of conception. Another reason is unexplained infertility, where there’s no apparent reason why both parties are infertile.

It’s time to explore ART

With the many possible obstacles, many couples can give up hope when multiple IUI cycles fail to produce results. At this stage, the doctor and patient can discuss possibilities beyond IUI. The options usually surround ART, a series of medical procedures and strategies to help achieve pregnancy. ART often involves the direct handling of sperm and eggs to produce embryos. The goal is to help couples with specific circumstances that increase the chances of pregnancy. ART is ideal for family building in cases of unexplained infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, and male-factor infertility issues.

The power of IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is considered the gold standard of ART and is often recommended beyond IUI. IVF is a multi-step process that requires multiple egg retrieval via a surgical procedure. Before this step, the fertility clinic would require the woman to administer fertility medicine to create and trigger numerous eggs. The eggs are then carefully combined with the provided sperm sample to create multiple embryos. The most viable embryo is then transferred to the uterus using a simple procedure. IVF has higher success rates than IUI and is effective in specific fertility cases like blocked fallopian tubes.

One is enough with ICSI

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can help cases of severe male-factor infertility, like low sperm count. ICSI follows the same IVF process with a significant difference during the embryo creation stage. The embryologist will use a single sperm instead of part of the entire sample to fertilize the egg. For men with extreme azoospermia or poor sperm quality, ICSI can be a game changer in creating viable embryos for implantation. ICSI is another form of ART that can tackle the limitations of IUI.

Increase your chances with PGT

What does preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) have to do with IUI? PGT checks embryos and other samples for any abnormalities that may be preventing pregnancy. This test is usually performed several days before the implantation stage. Genetic screening can identify issues leading to failed pregnancies and multiple miscarriages. PGT can also identify genetic conditions a parent does not wish to pass on to the child. An underlying genetic condition may be the reason for failed IUI or even failed IVF. Adding this step can increase the chances of a successful implantation.

Consider surrogacy

If IUI and potentially IVF fail, there are even more options for family building. Individuals or couples can consider surrogacy, especially if there is a challenge with carrying the baby to term. Surrogacy occurs when another woman is willing to carry and deliver the individual or couple’s baby. Traditional surrogacy uses the surrogate’s own eggs via IUI, meaning there is a genetic link to the child. In gestational surrogacy, a fresh or frozen embryo is implanted instead. Surrogacy is a complex process but has high success rates for those with severe fertility challenges.

IUI failure is not the end

IUI is a valuable action step for couples with fertility challenges. While the process has some advantages, some drawbacks lead to multiple failed cycles. Going beyond IUI means integrating science, medicine, and pharmacy to perform feats like IVF and ICSI. These advanced fertility options are practical and responsible for millions of births yearly. Using these options, however, requires emotional, financial, and time commitments. Discuss all the challenges with a fertility team and start a new fertility journey.