Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Also known as artificial insemination, intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the process by which sperm is inserted in a woman's uterus through artificial means. A less invasive procedure than in vitro fertilization (IVF), IUI uses washed or prepared sperm, or sperm from a donor, which is inserted into a very thin flexible catheter and then injected through the cervix directly into the uterus. The whole process is relatively painless, takes only minutes and is typically performed around the time of ovulation.
Some causes of infertility can be effectively treated with superovulation therapy. During superovulation therapy, the woman is treated with medications that increase the number of eggs she ovulates each month. At the appropriate time, IUI can be performed. Causes of infertility that can be treated with this therapy include ovarian dysfunction, infertility associated with endometriosis, cervical factor infertility, and infertility in which the exact cause cannot be identified. Superovulation therapy is also an effective addition in treating couples with male infertility.
How Superovulation Therapy Works
The first step in superovulation therapy is to administer medications aimed at increasing the number of mature eggs produced by the ovaries. During the normal reproductive cycle, two hormones - follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) - are required to initiate and complete the process of egg maturation. Medications are administered to women either orally or by injection to increase levels of both LH and FSH. Fertility is then further enhanced by performing an appropriately-timed intrauterine insemination with semen from your partner or a donor. The semen sample is prepared in a way that allows an enriched, highly motile concentration of sperm to be placed directly into your uterus through the cervix. The result is an increase in the number of mature eggs, as well as motile sperm, within your reproductive tract, which enhances the likelihood that you will become pregnant.
Commonly Used Medications
Clomiphene citrate can be taken orally to promote the process of egg maturation. The progress is monitored with ultrasounds or the use of home ovulation-predictor kits. Once ovulation is impending, an appropriately-timed intrauterine insemination is performed. A more aggressive approach that uses injectable medications, containing FSH with or without LH, results in a higher likelihood of conception than when clomiphene citrate alone is used. To assess the process of egg maturation while you are being treated with FSH with or without LH, several ultrasounds are performed. Blood sampling of your estrogen levels is also performed. Once the eggs have matured adequately, ovulation is induced, and just prior to ovulation, an intrauterine insemination is performed.
Research on Superovulation Therapy
Some of our Centers’ reproductive endocrinologists are recognized nationally for the research they have performed in the area of ovulation induction. The information they receive from these ongoing studies enables their physicians to be highly successful in helping infertile couples achieve healthy pregnancies.
In Vitro Sciences, 22 Waterville Road, Avon, CT 06001