Women who lie supine for a quarter of an hour after an IUI procedure increase their chances for conception by a significant percentage according to one study. Lead author of this study, Inge Custers, said that women who remain on their backs after IUI (intrauterine insemination) have a 50% better chance at getting pregnant. Custers’ study was published in the online British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Custer and her team of colleagues have no idea why this small step makes such a big difference in the success rate for getting pregnant, but they think that the supine position stops the sperm from leaking out of the vagina. In IUI, sperm are injected straight into the uterus, in the hopes that conception will occur as a result. This procedure differs from that of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which the egg is fertilized in a test tube and the subsequent embryo implanted into the uterus.
The BMJ editorial states that IUI has some benefits over IVF in that it doesn’t necessitate as many medications as IVF and is less expensive. IUI is more available, since it is offered even in smaller fertility clinics. However, IUI carries a lower success rate than that which is achieved through the IVF procedure. Even so, IUI retains its place as one of the commonest fertility treatments in use all over the world, say the study authors.
As for the study, the subjects included almost 400 Netherlander couples who were treated with IUI. Some of the women, chosen at random, were asked to lie still for 15 minutes for a period of 15 minutes after the procedure, while the other women were allowed to stand up as soon as the procedure had been performed.
The women who remained still for a quarter of an hour conceived 27% of the time versus 18% of the women in the control group. The downside of using this method is that it takes a bit more time and space within a given fertility clinic. Of course, there would be fewer couples who needed to try again, so that there would be fewer repeat patients, said the experts.
One naysayer expert makes the point that it isn’t yet known whether this is the best way to maximize the odds of pregnancy. Dr. Peter McGovern, the director of the New Jersey-based Hackensack University Medical Center’s division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility commented that not enough is known about current practices in individual fertility clinics. Do the patients lie still for 5 minutes, or perhaps 10—15 minutes or even longer?
McGovern finds this to be an important omission in the study. The authors didn’t test whether shorter or longer times are the most effective.