IUI is a different procedure from IVF in that:
- fertilization of the egg happens inside the woman’s body i.e. sperm meets egg in the body to form an embryo, similar to a natural pregnancy,
- it is a less invasive procedure than IVF and no anaesthesia is required as there is no need to retrieve the egg from the woman, the feeling is similar to that of doing a pap smear,
- IUI is less costly as the process itself is simpler.
Table 1: Key differences between IUI and IVF
The man’s semen sample is collected beforehand, prior to the start of the IUI cycle. Your fertility clinic will assist you in scheduling an appointment with the laboratory to submit your semen sample on a specified date. Husbands can choose to either collect their semen at home on in the hospital, with the sterile specimen container provided by the labs beforehand. The semen must be sent to the lab within the stipulated time frame to ensure optimal quality of the sperms (which will be subsequently extracted from the semen).
To increase the chances of pregnancy, women opting to undergo IUI will typically be given a small tablet to stimulate the production of eggs in the ovaries, so that there will usually at least be one mature egg available for the sperm to fertilise during IUI. This tablet is taken daily from Day 2 of the menstrual cycle.
During this period, your gynaecologist will also be monitoring the growth of your eggs in the ovaries to detect accurately when ovulation will happen. (*Remember, your fertile period happens only when ovulation takes place!)
Sometimes, a hCG injection will be given to induce ovulation as well. In that case, the insemination procedure will take place around 36 hours after the injection.
Once ovulation is detected or induced, your gynaecologist will schedule for the IUI procedure. This procedure is simple and can be done in the gynae’s clinic with no downtime after. The processed sperms that were collected earlier will be inserted into the woman’s uterus via a fine plastic tube.
A pregnancy test can be done in 2 weeks to determine if the treatment is successful.