Understand Intrauterine Insemination, aka Artificial Insemination

For couples or individuals in Tempe, Arizona and around the country who are going through infertility problems, treatment may seem confusing and overwhelming. But gaining a basic understanding of some of your treatment and procedure options may help take some of the mystery and worry out of the process, reducing stress and perhaps even improving chances of success. Educated patients are often the best patients, so take the time to learn some of the basics of the most common procedures and treatments such as intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination.

This procedure is often a first treatment option for those with male infertility, cervical factor infertility, an allergy to semen, or unexplained infertility. Women who are using donor sperm may also choose intrauterine insemination as a means of getting pregnant. It is important that you first speak with your doctor about the possible causes of your infertility, and then work on pinpointing the problem by answering questions, submitting to exams, and going through various tests. Once the problem has been identified, the specialist will recommend certain treatments to help you overcome the condition and get pregnant.

Intrauterine insemination works by first collecting a semen sample—whether from the male partner or a sperm donor. The sample will be 'washed', which means that it will be put through a process in which the low quality sperm are taken out and any other debris is removed. This concentrates the sperm to improve the chances of success. The semen is analyzed for sperm count, motility, and to check for any diseases or problems. The woman who is undergoing the procedure will be monitored to determine ovulation so the treatment is performed at the appropriate time.

Unless coordinated with the woman's natural and normal ovulation cycle (the procedure is administered the day after an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH), fertility medication will be used to stimulate ovulation. In this case a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection will be administered the day prior to insemination. The actual procedure consists of the woman lying on a table with legs in stirrups while a speculum is inserted into the vagina and then a catheter is inserted through the cervical opening into the uterus. A sperm sample attached to a syringe on the catheter is placed into the tube and into the uterus. 

The procedure takes about 20 minutes to perform and is administered in a doctor's office or fertility clinic. The woman will be asked to relax and lie on her back for a little bit before she is allowed to get up and resume normal activities or return to work. A pregnancy test will be taken after a couple of weeks either at home or in a doctor's office to determine whether the procedure was a success. If the procedure is not successful, couples may be encouraged to give IUI another chance before moving onto more expensive and more invasive procedures.

As with any other procedure, there are certain risks of which patients should be aware before proceeding with treatment. These include infection, cramping, and multiple pregnancies. When fertility medication is used, other side effects including nausea may be possible. Speak with a Tempe fertility specialist to learn more and go over potential risks and side effects prior to receiving treatment. The cost of the procedure is about $300 to $800 depending on geographic location and the clinic at which the patient chooses to receive treatment.  Compare this to the thousands of dollars required with many other procedures, and it's easy to see why a lot of couples first try IUI before other treatments.

Learn more about intrauterine insemination in Tempe, Arizona.

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