Wondering about the keys to a successful IUI before going in for your procedure? There are several IUI success tips both you and your partner can follow to maximize your chances of pregnancy. Intrauterine insemination is a low-invasive fertility treatment that can quickly increase your chances of pregnancy in a number of scenarios.
What to Expect During an IUI
IUI is a type of fertility treatment that uses artificial insemination to place washed sperm directly inside a woman's uterus. The IUI procedure is usually performed by a reproductive endocrinology physician. IUI treatment is generally combined with ovulation induction treatment, where oral pills like Letrozole are used to support follicle formation and an ultrasound is performed to evaluate for follicular response. Next a trigger injection is recommended to boost ovulation and to synchronize ovulation and insemination. On the day of the procedure, semen will be collected and washed to optimize the insemination. The process for the patient is minimally invasive. A small catheter is inserted through the vagina and cervix, then into the uterus. The washed, highest motility sperm is released in the uterus. The procedure takes less than a minute to complete. Some physicians recommend luteal hormonal support with progesterone.
Is an IUI Right for You?
IUI is often the first type of fertility treatment recommended by doctors because it's relatively inexpensive and not very invasive. There are many scenarios in which IUI is recommended, including:
Same-sex couples with donor sperm
Mild semen quality issues
Your fertility doctor can help you assess your issues to choose an optimal treatment plan.
When Is an IUI Not Recommended?
There are some scenarios in which IUI is not a good fit. In these cases, your fertility doctor may recommend starting with IVF or another form of treatment.
Lower sperm count
Damaged fallopian tubes
Lower Egg Count
H2: IUI Success Rates
In general, IUI success rates average around 10.9% per cycle. Cumulatively, the population in this study had a 19.4% success rate. Many reproductive endocrinologists recommend three to six cycles of ovulation induction and IUI treatment. Of course, there are many factors that can influence the success of an IUI procedure. Two of the biggest impacts on IUIs? Age and the fertility diagnosis of both partners.
Age: A woman's age is a major indicator of success in IUI. One study revealed the following results:
Under 30: 38.5% pregnancy rate
31 to 35: 12.4% pregnancy rate
36 to 40: 11% pregnancy rate
41 to 45: 4.7%
Fertility diagnosis for both partners: The fertility health of both partners is another major factor in IUI success rates. 20% of infertility in couples is due to male factors, while another 30 to 40% of infertility is due to a combination of both partners' health.
Success Starts with IUI Prep
Follow these IUI success tips to improve your odds of a positive treatment.
Reduce stress & anxiety
Navigating fertility issues can be emotional, but do your best to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety during this period. Acupuncture is one option to help prime your body for IUI. While research is still limited, some international studies link acupuncture to higher pregnancy and live birth rates. You should ideally see an acupuncturist between one and three months prior to your IUI procedure.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking (or vaping) to maximize your chances of pregnancy following an IUI. Both you and your partner should also incorporate healthy foods into your diet in order to improve the quality of the eggs and sperm. A high-fat, low-carb diet can lower inflammation and balance your reproductive hormones. Also opt for organic produce to eliminate as many toxins as possible.
Avoid ejaculating before sperm collection
A male partner who is donating sperm should avoid ejaculating for at least two days before a specimen is collected. The official recommended range is two to seven days, although it's unclear as to just how much of an impact this has. Still, when evaluating how to improve IUI success rates, it's something that is worth trying.
Take the correct supplements
There are a number of fertility supplements you can take to prepare your body for an IUI, including CoQ10, prenatal vitamins, and any others recommended by your doctor. Male partners can also take men's fertility supplements to help boost semen quality.
What to Do After IUI
Here's what to do after IUI as well as things to avoid after IUI to improve your chance of success.
Take your mind off the procedure & results
Keep your mind occupied in the days following your IUI. Go back to work as usual and plan outings with your partner or friends. It's much better to stay busy than dwell on the results, which are mostly out of your control.
Continue to practice healthy lifestyle changes
Continue to refrain from smoking or drinking after your IUI. Also keep eating healthy foods to support a successful pregnancy in the following weeks.
Stay active while avoiding too-strenuous activities
Keep your body moving with gentle activities, like yoga or walking. Aim to get in at least 20 minutes of movement each day — just avoid strenuous activities, even if you're used to tough workouts.
Have sex after the IUI
This tip is especially effective for couples with sperm-related fertility issues. Studies show that having sex within the 12 to 18 hours following an IUI can improve success rates. Just avoid putting too much pressure on yourselves and remember to enjoy the experience rather than just checking it off your to-do list.
Remember that IUI success rates are lower than IVF, so stay realistic as you await your results. Also avoid taking a pregnancy test too soon — it can take up to two weeks after ovulation to get accurate test results.