Common Adverse Reactions To IUI

Complications from intrauterine insemination (IUI) are rare. But while the procedure is known to have a very low rate of complications, there are risks with every medical procedure and IUI is no exception to this rule. Women who have a history of ovarian disorders or infections seem to have a higher risk for these complications.

Mild Cramping

For most women, the worst side effect experienced after an IUI procedure is some mild cramping. This is quite normal and tends to be of short duration. Besides cramping, there may be mild spotting, an upset stomach, or diarrhea. Women treated with GnRh (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) might experience side effects from this medication including mood swings, headaches, and hot flashes.

In very rare cases, there may be an injury to the bladder or bowel. In some cases, blood vessels have been known to rupture or even hemorrhage.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Yet another complication from IUI is the ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy that is extra-uterine or outside of the uterus. In most cases, an ectopic (also known as "tubal" pregnancy) is located inside the fallopian tube, however, in rare cases, an ectopic pregnancy may grow in the abdomen, cervix, or ovary. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. As the fetus grows larger, the risk increases for rupture of the fallopian tube or ovary.

Women who take ovarian stimulation medications prior to IUI may have an allergic reaction to these drugs. The symptoms are much like those of other allergic responses: itching, swelling, and fever. If it becomes difficult for the woman to breathe, this is considered a life-threatening situation.

A small number of women have allergic reactions after IUI in response to the sperm that have been placed inside the uterus. Before the sperm is used in IUI it is washed and then placed in special antibiotic-containing fluid. If a woman is allergic to these antibiotics, she may have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic-saturated sperm.

Also quite rare is the event in which bacteria present in the woman's cervical mucus are transferred by the IUI catheter into the uterus, causing infection. Infection can also result when the sperm are infected with bacteria, and then transferred to the uterus. In such cases, it is possible for the infection to spread to the other pelvic reproductive organs.

Symptoms from infection tend to show up within the first week of IUI. Any IUI patient who has abdominal pain, fever, bloody or otherwise unusual vaginal discharge should seek immediate medical attention. In the earliest stages, such infections can be treated with antibiotics. Women at high risk for infection after IUI include those who have had past infections or those who have undergone tubal ligation.


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