In most women, complications of intrauterine insemination are rare. Intrauterine insemination is an assisted reproductive technology, in which fertilized eggs are placed within the uterus. Couples unable to conceive through sexual intercourse, because of male infertility or low sperm mobility, may opt to use this procedure. It is also available for single women desiring children through sperm donation.
Although the procedure is low risk, there is always a possibility of developing a serious condition. Some women with a history of infection or ovarian disorders may be at higher risk.
Common Adverse Reactions
Some women may experience mild cramping after the procedure. This is normal and of short duration. Other side effects include mild spotting, upset stomach and diarrhea. Women who receive GnRh (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) may experience hot flashes, mood swings and headaches.
Although it is very rare, there is the possibility of injury to the bowel or bladder during the egg collecting procedure. There is also a rare chance that a blood vessel could rupture or hemorrhage.
An ectopic pregnancy is one that occurs outside the uterus. In most cases, ectopic pregnancies occur within the fallopian tube; however, in very rare instances, it can occur in the ovary, cervix or abdomen. An ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening. As the fetus grows, there is a possibility of rupture in the fallopian tube and ovary. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus has little chance of coming to full term.
Some women may develop an allergic reaction to fertility medications. These reactions are typical of other allergic reactions, in that they usually include fever, swelling and/or itching. Difficulty breathing may occur, and this is a life-threatening situation.
It is has also been reported that a small number of women have had allergic reactions after the sperm has been placed in the uterus. After the sperm is collected and washed, it is placed into a suspension fluid that may contain antibiotics. Women who are allergic to these antibiotics may develop an allergic reaction to the sperm.
On rare occasions, a bacterium present in cervical mucus may be transferred to the uterus via the catheter. This is also possible, if infected sperm are placed into the uterus. This infection can spread to other reproductive organs.
Symptoms usually appear within a week after insemination. Patients experiencing abdominal pain, fever, or unusual or bloody discharge should seek medical attention immediately. If detected early, the treatment consists of antibiotics.
Women who have had previous tubal ligation procedures or a history of infection are at higher risk of developing a pelvic infection after insemination.
Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
This complication occurs after induced ovarian stimulation. The patient may feel feverish, bloated and nauseous, due to an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Ovarian cysts may also develop. Immediate medical treatment is necessary. This is a life-threatening condition.
The accumulation of fluid leads to difficulties in breathing and urinating. If not treated, further complications of OHSS may develop and include twisted ovary, renal failure and circulatory disorders.
Women who are young or have a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome are at higher risk of developing this condition. It is also more prominent in women who have received GnRh or hCG hormones.