The Risks of Intrauterine Insemination

The risks of intrauterine insemination (IUI) are few and rare. The procedure is quite simple and not very invasive. Here are some of the complications that can occur as a result of IUI treatment:

Adverse Reactions

* Medications used in IUI may cause adverse reactions but these can almost always be reversed. Medicines used to hold back the menstrual cycle may cause headache, hot flashes, nervousness, agitation, anxiety, or dizziness. The medications that stimulate ovulation may cause headache, fatigue, bloating, nausea, and behavior changes. 

* Ovarian stimulation prior to the IUI procedure is done by injection. There may be a local reaction to the medication, such as swelling, rashes, or bruising. It is rare for allergic reactions to occur.

Blood Tests

* Several blood tests are performed prior to IUI to ascertain the woman's hormonal status in an effort to predict ovulation. This involves taking blood. Drawing blood causes a very minimal amount of pain.

* Sometimes, the ovarian stimulation causes ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHS) in which too many egg follicles are produced. When this happens, IUI must be called off since there is a high risk for multiple pregnancy. In such a case, IVF is preferred since this procedure enables the physician more control over how many eggs will be fertilized and transferred back to the womb as embryos.

* In the case where ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome occurs in response to fertility medication, the ovaries enlarge and there is two-sided pelvic pain. There may be other symptoms such as bloating, nausea, loss or appetite, and vomiting. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have the greatest risk for this syndrome. 

In severe cases of OHS there may be fluid in the abdomen, dehydration, and blood clots thrown to the blood vessels of the lungs and legs. A woman with OHS will need bed rest and possible hospitalization.

* IUI, in rare cases, may cause an irritation of the cervix or of the uterus due to the insertion of the catheter. This may cause cramping, spotting, or bleeding. There is also a small chance of infection, in which case, antibiotic or surgical treatment may be required.

* When ovarian stimulation is used in conjunction with IUI, the risk for multiple pregnancy is much higher. There is no way to control the number of eggs that may be fertilized as a result of the IUI procedure. Multiple pregnancies pose a risk to both mother and babies. The risks of multiple pregnancy include premature delivery, cesarean birth, maternal hemorrhaging, increased risk of infant health issues and future development, financial difficulties, and emotional stress.  

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