Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a relatively safe and simple fertility treatment involving the process of placing sperm into a woman’s uterus to assist with reproduction. The sperm is washed and then placed into a catheter. This catheter of sperm is injected into the uterus close to the time of ovulation. This method of treatment is sometimes chosen if there are reasons for infertility such as the cervix blocking the sperm from penetrating, ejaculation difficulties or impotence, or because of a low sperm count or poor quality of sperm. Some couples do not have the physical ability to have sexual intercourse. Sperm donors may be utilized as well for this type of procedure.
Injury to the Cervix
Although the cervix is bypassed and the catheter and sperm goes directly to the uterus, the cervix may on rare occasion receive injury. This can cause slight bleeding or spotting.
There is normally little cramping after this type of procedure, but if there is cramping, more rest may help, as should decreasing aerobic activities such as running or swimming for a while to lessen the cramps. Heavy lifting should also be avoided until the cramps subside.
Although rare, there is the risk of slight bleeding with intrauterine insemination, especially if the cervix is injured during the treatment process. Slight bleeding may occur for the first couple of days if there was a small cut or some damage to the cervix. Anytime there is bleeding, the doctor should be advised.
Although the risk of infection is low at less than 1 percent with intrauterine insemination, it is still a risk, and more so if it is done at home. It is not recommended to do a IUI at home, as there is a higher risk of infection since the sperm should be washed first and separated from the semen.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
When the sperm enters the body, it submits the recipient to whatever diseases that it may carry including sexually transmitted diseases. This makes it a good reason to know the health of the donor and to be assured that there are no pre-existing diseases that may be transferred.
Stimulation of the ovaries is normally a safe process, but risks of excessive ovarian stimulation can occur with the use of fertility medications as with gonadotropin therapy, with an even higher risk.
With the use of fertility pills, there is a chance of having triplets or quadruplets. Multiple eggs are used to increase the chance of a pregnancy, but the use of several eggs can lead to a great deal of ovulation and multiple pregnancies. These types will carry more risks than one pregnancy alone.
Fertility Problems and Intrauterine Insemination
Since the sperm are placed into the uterus, the woman should not have any pre-existing fertility issues. The ovaries should be functioning properly. The fallopian tubes should not be blocked by endometrial tissues, which is the tissue that lines the uterus and can sometimes surface itself in an area other than the uterus. These types of medical conditions and fertility problems can create difficulties for intrauterine insemination.