Intrauterine insemination (IUI) — the first step in treating infertility
Intrauterine insemination is a treatment option in case of an unfulfilled child wish of heterosexual couples and a possibility for singles and homosexual couples to become pregnant. In this article we look at the procedure, the chances of success and the risks of intrauterine insemination.
What is intrauterine insemination?
In the transfer of semen (intrauterine insemination), processed sperm are transferred directly into the uterus via a catheter during a woman’s fertile days. This method is often used when the partner has has a shortage of sperms (limited spermiogram). This procedure is considered less stressful for the woman — despite previous hormone therapy, which in most cases serves to promote the maturation of several eggs. One speaks of a homologous insemination when the partner’s sperm is used, or heterologous insemination when a donor’s sperm is used.
What are the chances of success?
Age is relevant to the chances of success for both treatments. The older a woman gets, the fewer eggs she has and the less fertile she is. The ovarian reserve is measured with the indicator AMH (anti-müllerian hormone) and the hormones FSH and LH. The better the ovarian reserve, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Women under the age of 35 have a 10–15% chance of getting pregnant in a single insemination cycle. The success rate is lower if there is tubal obstruction, endometriosis or infertility for more than three years.
How does insemination work?
The aim of insemination is to transport as many potent sperm cells as possible to the woman’s egg, ideally at the right time when the egg is mature. This is why the treatment is almost always preceded by hormonal stimulation of the ovaries.
For the stimulation drugs are administered that can compensate for a hormonal imbalance depending on the initial situation. Only when at least one follicle has matured insemination can take place after ovulation has been triggered.
The prepared sperm cells are transferred directly into the uterus with the help of a catheter after the woman has ovulated. Fertilization, thus the union of egg and sperm takes place directly in the fallopian tube.
What are the risks?
The actual sperm transfer is relatively uncomplicated and painless. However, the prior hormone treatment can be stressful for the body and is associated with health risks. Very rarely, it can lead to so-called overstimulation syndrome, an “overreaction” of the treated person’s body to the hormone preparations. This can result in abdominal pain, nausea, tightness in the abdomen and shortness of breath.
The hormone stimulation can also cause more follicles to mature. This increases the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy. This is much more physically demanding for pregnant women. The risk of preterm labour and premature birth is also increased with multiple births.
Cost of an IUI
The costs for insemination vary between the federal states and the fertility clinics. Anyone who has IUI performed with hormone treatment must bear the costs for the medication. In addition, there are the treatment costs of the clinic. You can expect an average of 400 to 800 euros per treatment cycle.
Cost coverage by health insurance
Health insurance companies often cover at least part of the IUI treatment costs for married, heterosexual couples. It is therefore worth consulting your own health insurance company in advance to find out what services are offered.
Social freezing: success rates
What is the ideal age to freeze my eggs? This is an often asked question in the context of social freezing. A simplified answer would be that it is generally better to freeze at a younger age than at a later age. However, it is not quite that simple.
At Fertilly, we have made it our mission to accompany couples (homosexual and heterosexual) and singles on the way to fulfilling their child wish. In doing so, it is important to us to create transparency in the area of fertility services, to provide information and knowledge on the topics of pregnancy and fertility and to help you to find the most suitable Fertility Center. Through cooperation with first-class Fertility Centres and clinics in Europe, enquiries about Fertilly are given preferential treatment. This means that our patients avoid the usually long waiting times and get appointments more quickly.
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