After trying to conceive for a year without success, a couple often comes to terms with the idea of some sort of fertility treatment to aid them in the quest for parenthood. Often, the first course of action is an ovarian stimulant and, when things move to the next level, IUI (intrauterine insemination) is usually the next procedure of choice.
It’s Been Around For Ages
Perhaps the oldest of all methods of assisted reproduction, IUI (formerly referred to as artificial insemination) has moved beyond the antiquities of using a turkey baster and hoping for the best. Now things have changed and there is definitely more to intrauterine insemination than just performing the artificial insemination. There are specific preparatory procedures a couple must follow in order to prepare for IUI to help ensure its success.
It’s All In The Timing…
The saying, “It’s all in the timing” could not be truer than when it comes to IUI. An egg, once released from the ovaries, has only 24 hours during which it can be fertilized. Insemination, therefore, must coincide with ovulation. If a woman is doing a natural cycle of IUI (that is using her egg and her husband’s sperm and inseminating during her ovulatory cycle), she will likely use an ovulation predictor kit to detect the time of the LH surge that happens just before ovulation. The test is not able to indicate the exact time of ovulation, only that it is imminent. If fertility drugs are being used, then the timing can be more precise since there is more careful monitoring of the ovaries and hormones in such cases.
Everything Has To Be Properly Prepared
That is not all. Sperm used in IUI must be prepared properly before the actual insemination takes place and this too requires timing. Under normal circumstances, sperm that is not washed can live for as long as five days in fertile cervical mucus. Washed sperm, however, only has a lifespan of 24 hours with a window of six to 12 hours being the average. Since the washed sperm has such a short lifespan, success of the procedure is partially determined by performing the IUI as close as possible to the time of ovulation.
Once, Twice, Three Times Lucky
The fertility specialist, knowing that ovulation can sometimes be very difficult to pinpoint, may suggest performing a second IUI. This will be done between 12 to 48 hours after the first IUI. By doing this, chances of a successful insemination are increased by ensuring sperm is in the uterus close to the time of ovulation. On top of that, some fertility specialists recommend that intercourse at home in between inseminations may boost the chances of conception. A man’s sperm count is not affected by the frequency of ejaculation, so this method of increasing the odds is reasonable.