Whether you're just embarking on your "fertility journey" or you've been trecking it for some time, you've likely heard of the term "IUI." This procedure is also known to some as the "turkey baster" method.
IUI is short for Intrauterine Insemination. An IUI is a fertility procedure where you bypass the cervix and get sperm into the uterus to aid in conception.
How does this work? Here's our step by step guide to IUIs -
1) First, IUIs happen around the time on ovulation to make sure there is sperm in the uterus when you release a mature egg from an ovary. Some women might take an oral or injectable stimulating drug to help with the growth of mature eggs, and others might do an IUI with their natural cycle.
2) You will likely track ovulation with bloodwork and ultrasound with your fertility specialist (a reproductive endocrinologist). Blood work helps determine your hormone levels to see when you will ovulate (for more about blood hormone levels see our blog here). Ultrasound shows the follicles developing to make sure you have a mature egg that will be released (ovulation).
3) Once the time is right (for most women that is on cycle day 14), you will get called into your doctor's office for the procedure.
4) The procedure is relatively painless and quick. Most clinics need the sperm sample early in the am so it can be washed, and a sample can be prepped for the procedure. Sperm is either from a partner for a sperm bank.
5) The IUI procedure takes about 20 minutes from start to the time you leave. You will lay down on the exam table with your feet in holders. Once you're in place, a speculum will be inserted into the vaginal canal to open the pathway. The doctor will then take the prepped sperm sample - which is in a catheter - and insert it into the vaginal canal. The thin and flexible catheter is then pushed through the cervix and into the uterus where the sperm is injected.
6) Most clinics have you lay down for a few minutes after the procedure and before getting off of the exam table.
Some things you might want to consider:
1) Make sure you've had a fertility work-up with a fertility specialist in your area before your IUI procedure.
2) You might want to bring your partner or friend with you for the procedure to have some support.
3) Being at optimal health before attempting conception is important. You should be taking a prenatal vitamin for at least three months before conception. Make sure you limit your alcohol conception, get in regular cardiovascular activity weekly, and beware of the daily products you use such as feminine hygiene products and make-up.
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