Alternatives to Intra-Uterine Insemination

If IUI is not for you or if you have gone through IUI with no success, then fret not, other alternatives are available which may provide a solution. When treating something as complex as fertility, there are many complications and considerations that interfere with treatment, and it is perfectly normal to find that a particular treatment doesn’t suit you or isn’t particularly successful.

Why might IUI not work?

IUI is an effective technique, but one that requires certain criteria to be met. The first and foremost of these is eligible sperm. Sperm cells are very specialised and designed to achieve one end and one end alone, the fertilisation of an egg cell. To do this they need to be motile, which means able to move effectively to access the egg, high in number so that of the millions of sperm involved in a semen simple a few will actually get to the egg, and well-shaped to perform their function. A sperm cell is specifically formed to get through the layers around an egg cell and fertilised, if this specific structure, called morphology, is disrupted then fertility is affected.

Sperm from a male partner or donor must be proficient in terms of motility, number, and morphology to be able to fertilise an egg through IUI. If sperm are deficient in any of these categories, which tends to be more the case if a male partner as donor sperm are always screened for their effectiveness, then IUI will not be the best course of action.

Other factors can limit IUI’s effectiveness, and these include age which dramatically reduces fertility above the age of 35, and poor tubal health. The tubes in question are structures linking the ovaries, where eggs are stored, and the womb, where IUI takes place, and are called the fallopian tubes. If damaged in anyway, the functions of these tubes becomes somewhat limited, and so IUI becomes less effective as egg cells aren’t transported to the womb where they are needed. Fallopian tube damage can be a consequence of pelvic inflammatory disease or the use of an IUD, a form of contraception which involves a device being placed by the uterus where it can scar the fallopian tubes.

Generally speaking a clinic will screen for these issues before going on with IUI, but in many cases one or more of these factors may come into play despite your best efforts. Also at least a third of infertility cases remain unidentified in terms of what causes them, and in these instances IUI might not work for reasons your clinician will not be able to determine.

Alternatives to IUI

Many other fertility treatments are available should IUI fail. If irregular ovulation is a cause of it, then fertility drugs can be used to enhance egg production and improve your chances of either IUI or another form of artificial insemination. If multiple IUI cycles have failed then IVF (in vitro fertilisation) is a widely known, respected, and established choice for couples and single parents across the country.

IVF involves taking an egg and sperm and introducing them to one another so that they may fertilise in a laboratory setting. This can be refined by techniques like ICSI (intra-cytosolic sperm injection) which directly inject sperm into the egg cell, and ultimately bypass many issues around fertility like sperm motility, count, and morphology, as well as the number of eggs produced, fallopian tube damage, and any one of a host of other causes.

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