How Well Does IUI Work?
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Back when you first started trying to conceive, you probably thought that all it took was the slip of a condom, the touch of the tip, or the missing of a pill and – you’re pregnant. Or, at least, that’s what you got from your sex education back in school. But as it turns out, for most couples, the chance of getting pregnant in any given month of trying is only around 20%! So, if you've had difficulties conceiving, you're not alone. Thankfully, though, there's a relatively simple fertility treatment – intrauterine insemination (IUI) – that can help boost your chances at finally having a baby. Below, learn what IUI is, its success rates, and how much it costs.
What is IUI?
IUI, also known as artificial insemination (AI), involves the direct injection of prepared sperm – where the better quality sperm are separated from sperm that are sluggish, non-moving, or abnormally-shaped – into the uterus through a catheter.
The catheter creates a direct route for the sperm to fertilise an egg in the fallopian tube, bypassing the cervix and cervical mucus, which can otherwise hamper its journey. What this procedure does, ultimately, is to give sperm a better chance of reaching the egg.
Depending on your health condition, age, and the reasons why you’re doing the insemination, your physician may advise for a medicated IUI, where you’ll take fertility drugs to trigger ovulation. Otherwise, if you have no problems ovulating on your own or you are opting for an IUI for non-medical reasons, you may prefer an unmedicated IUI.
When is IUI treatment recommended?
IUI treatment is typically recommended when mild male factor infertility, such as low sperm production and erectile dysfunction – is present. However, IUI may be selected as a fertility treatment for any of the following situations as well:
Unexplained infertility, where the cause of infertility is undiagnosed
Hostile cervical mucus, which can refer to severe vaginal dryness
If a donor sperm – from London Sperm Bank, for example – is being used
If sexual pain makes intercourse not possible
When is IUI not recommended?
Unfortunately, IUI is not suitable for all women. If you have blocked fallopian tubes, low-quality eggs, severe endometriosis, a low number of eggs (low ovarian reserve), IUI will not be an appropriate treatment for you.
What’s IUI’s success rate?
According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA), IUI success rates depend on the woman’s age; the younger you are, the higher the chances of successful fertilisation, and subsequently, embryo implantation. The likelihood of you conceiving also increases if you have fertility drugs to stimulate your natural cycle.
Here’s a breakdown of IUI success rates, based on women’s age groups:
Under 35 – 18%
35 to 37 – 14%
38 to 39 – 12%
40 to 42 – 5%
Over 42 – 1%
How much does IUI cost?
The average cost of one full cycle of IUI treatment ranges from £350 to £1,000. Do bear in mind that you may need to go through several rounds of IUI before you have a successful pregnancy, so it’s worth considering that when you’re budgeting for costs of treatments.
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