If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it can feel like you’re all alone. But infertility is actually fairly common. According to the CDC, about a fifth of women of child-bearing age are unable to conceive after 12 or more consecutive months of trying — the definition of infertility. In addition, slightly more than one-quarter of women have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
As a top provider of infertility treatment, Richard Roberts, MD, helps patients at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe with state-of-the-art fertility treatments, including intrauterine insemination (IUI). Here’s how he helps couples in Conroe, Texas, use IUI to start or grow their families.
IUI is a type of artificial insemination, a procedure that transfers washed, concentrated sperm directly to your uterus. Ideally, those sperm will enter the fallopian tubes, meet with an egg, and fertilize it, initiating pregnancy.
IUI can be performed in conjunction with your natural ovulation cycle or, depending on your needs, alongside fertility medication to promote ovulation. The treatment involves a few distinct steps.
The first step in IUI is to gather a semen sample and prepare it. The sample may come from your partner or from frozen semen.
The sample is carefully washed, removing irritants that could interfere with results, along with weaker sperm that are unlikely to cause pregnancy. This step ensures the healthiest, strongest sperm are used to increase the chances of pregnancy.
IUI needs to be performed during ovulation. Dr. Roberts may use an in-office technique to check for signs of ovulation or you may use an at-home kit. If you have problems with ovulation, Dr. Roberts may inject a special medication to “jump-start” ovulation.
Once ovulation is detected, it’s time to move to the next stage: the IUI procedure. Typically, the procedure must be performed within a day or two of the start of ovulation.
Performed right in the office, the IUI procedure takes about a half hour or less. Placing the sperm inside your uterus takes only a few minutes.
During the exam, you’ll lie on the exam table and Dr. Roberts will insert a speculum into your vagina — the same way he begins a Pap smear. Then, he inserts a very thin tube through the vagina and cervix into your uterus. The tube is connected to a vial of prepared sperm.
Dr. Roberts “injects” the sperm into the uterus, then removes the catheter. After a brief period of lying still, you’ll be able to go about your regular routine. Some women experience light spotting for a few days afterward, and you might have some mild cramps. About two weeks after your IUI treatment, you can take a home pregnancy test or an in-office test, if Dr. Roberts prescribes one.
While some infertility treatments are designed to treat either male or female fertility issues, IUI can be used when infertility occurs as a result of an issue in either partner. Generally, IUI is used in these situations:
Dr. Roberts also recommends IUI for some couples with unexplained infertility.
IUI helps many couples conceive, but it’s not always the ideal treatment for infertility. Dr. Roberts recommends IUI or other fertility treatments following a comprehensive examination to try to determine the cause of fertility issues. Evaluations typically include a thorough medical history, lab tests like blood work and semen analysis, and evaluations of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
IUI is one type of fertility treatment, but there are other methods, too. To learn more about the treatments we offer that could help you conceive, call 936-756-7788 or book an appointment online with the team at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe today.