Weighing the IUI Options
Intrauterine insemination (IUI or Artificial Insemination) is one of several assisted reproductive technologies available to couples who are struggling with infertility. With the increasing number of available fertility drugs and fertility treatments, couples (in conjunction with their fertility specialists) must do their homework carefully and become informed about the pros and cons associated with each choice.
When to Choose IUI
The most common use of IUI is for cases of unexplained infertility. IUI is also a good option for couples who are experiencing mild male factor infertility, premature ejaculation or impotence, mild endometriosis, ovulation problems, cervical factor infertility, and for single women wanting to have a baby using a sperm donor.
When Not to Choose IUI
IUI is not effective in the following cases:
Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
Severe male factor infertility (very poor sperm quality)
Advanced stages of endometriosis
Women with Low Ovarian Reserve
Women over age 40
IUI Success Rate Factors
If IUI is the chosen treatment, whether or not the IUI procedure will succeed depends on the following factors:
Duration of infertility
Cause of infertility
Number and quality of sperm
Types of fertility drugs used (ovulation stimulation)
Timing of IUI procedure
Choosing the Right Time for IUI
Artificial insemination should be carefully timed to occur a little before or at the time of ovulation. While sperm are thought to remain viable in the female reproductive tract for up to five days, eggs remain fertilizable for only 12-24 hours (maximum) after ovulation. Thus in order for fertilization to occur, the timing of IUI is critical.
Choosing Between Fertility Drugs (Clomid and Injectable Gonadotropins)
Research shows that IUI combined with ovarian stimulation (the use of fertility drugs to simulate the ovaries to produce more eggs) increases the chances of becoming pregnant. Once the decision to use fertility drug has been made, couples and their fertility specialist must choose between Clomid (clomiphene citrate) tablets and injectable gonadotropins (Follistim, Gonal-F, Bravelle, Menopur).
Clomid is a tablet taken orally by women take for five days once menstruation begins. Clomid is one of the most commonly used fertility drugs due to its 80% success rate of stimulating ovulation, its minimal negative side effects, and its relative inexpensive cost compared to its counterparts
Gonadotropins are injected fertility drugs that contain either Luteinizing Hormone (LH) or Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) or a combination of the two. Gonadotropins mimic the actions of hormones found naturally in a woman's body and thus stimulate the ovaries to produce egg follicles for fertilization. Gonadotropins are considered a more aggressive treatment than Clomid.
Further, while studies indicate that IUI in conjunction with gonadotropins yields more pregnancies than IUI in conjunction with Clomid, the former also carries a higher risk of multiple pregnancies.