Why oh why do IUI? The benefits and success rates of artificial insemination (IUI)

It’s nearly my 4 year anniversary of doing fertility treatment so to celebrate I decided to do another IUI (intrauterine insemination). Then I remembered someone once told me that doing IUI was as effective as a  fart in the wind… which made me laugh. But it made me think twice, maybe we just stick with the more generally successful route of IVF?  I decided to explore all the benefits of artificial insemination (IUI) and success rates myself.

After doing 3 IUI and 4 IVF’s without success, doing IUI again seemed like an odd suggestion. It was like being told to go back to pre school after finishing my degree at University. But in this game doing all the work doesn’t mean you automatically graduate with a baby. And if you go to a brand new school (new RE) sometimes you have to start all over again…

The IUI success stats are much lower than IVF for my age group (35-37yrs). With only 10-15% with meds and 6-10% without for IUI compared to around 39% for IVF. So why oh why do IUI?

The benefits of artificial insemination (IUI) and success rates:

1) Increases your chances compared to regular sex. The beauty of IUI is that lots of good sperm are fast tracked straight to the eggs for fertilization. With normal sex only the strongest sperm make it through the cervical mucus and up into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
2) Your RE can get to know you before doing more aggressive treatment like IVF.  A new lover is wise to wine & dine you first before jumping straight into bed and the same goes for your new RE, this is a great way to get to know how the body responds before diving straight into IVF and wasting a cycle.
3) Less stress on the body. Gentler conditions may be better for embryo quality / development. Some IVF meds are so aggressive that it can effect egg quality. Being fertilized and growing in a lab can also be too harsh for some embryos so being able to grow in your uterus may make all the difference.
4) Less ovarian impact. You can still take stims but a much lower dose to produce around 3-4 follicles (as opposed to the multiple eggs with IVF so less chance of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
5) Options with meds. With IUI you can do a natural cycle (no meds), with clomid (a pill to stimulate follicles) or with low stimulation meds. Plus, it’s much less invasive on your body/ uterus because you don’t have the egg retrieval like you do with IVF.
6) $$$ It’s MUCH cheaper than IVF. My cycle cost around $3,000 including meds where the average IVF costs around $14,000. So you can get a few attempts in for the rate of 1 IVF.
7) Improvements/ New scenario. If you have addressed anything since your last cycle e.g. a varicocele operation, septate resection, an HSG test / opening your tubes – then this factor could improve your odds of success so why not try the less aggressive way first?

Listing these benefits of artificial insemination (IUI) helped persuade me to go ahead and I’m now in the second phase of my celebration, ‘the 2 week wait’. Yippee again.

I thought by being a pro at this I would be totally cool with IUI and the 2 week wait but it turns out it just gets harder, and the obsessive Googling just gets more crazy. Here’s an example of my search engine history:

Do cramps at 5 days post IUI mean implantation?
Can a hot water bottle kill an embryo?
Would a glass of wine kill an embryo?
Will a glass of wine improve implantation?
Do you feel morning sickness at 7 days post ovulation after IUI?
When does the trigger hCG hormone really leave my body so I can test early?

Of course I then had to research what exactly was going on in my body minute by minute because they haven’t invented a personal uterus microscope yet. So here is the typical IUI timeline just for you. LINK HERE

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