Everything you ever wanted to know about IUI

Gunce • Head of research at Glow. Unwilling infertility expert. 2 kids after 6 IVF treatments.

This is from our Blog.  Please let us know if you have additional questions. We have several Glow members with <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> experience. We would really appreciate it if they shared their thoughts as well. (Costs, how painful it was, what medication, did it work, so on.) 


You’ve been trying to conceive for a while. And nothing is happening. So you head to a fertility specialist who runs a battery of tests and then not finding anything concrete suggests casually: why don’t we try an <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> cycle?

Your heart goes: Dum. Dum. Dum.

<a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a>. Intrauterine insemination. What does it mean? What does it entail?

Fret not. We are going to explain it all. 

So as far as fertility treatments go, on a scale where sex is sex and <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IVF</a> is a root canal, <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> is like a thorough teeth cleaning by a slightly sadistic doctor. That is to say, it sucks, but it’s highly survivable.

An <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> cycle is not something you can initiate immediately. It takes time and planning. An <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> cycle starts with your new period. Your doctor determines the regiments of drugs you will be taking. For some women, there are no drugs. For them, it is just about timing. For others, they may take varying doses of Clomid or stronger medication to help them ovulate or to delay ovulation until their eggs are the perfect size. Some women do shots. The shots come in two varieties:

Totally manageable - Subcutaneous injections are commonly required for hormonal fertility drugs. Subcutaneous means just below the skin, into the fatty tissue that lies between your skin and the muscle underneath. These types of shots never really hurt me. Although sometimes they leave behind nasty bruises. Subcutaneous injections can easily be self-administered. 

FML - Intramuscular injection are done directly into the muscle. They hurt. A lot. Mine made me tear up. Every single time. (Up until you know you have to do this type of shot, it is better to not even think about them. ) You will need a partner to help you with intramuscular shots. Hopefully someone with steady hands and nerves of steel. 

Almost every type of fertility medication comes with a list of doozy side-effects. But the one that is almost universally guaranteed is that you will turn into a crazy person. It’s best if during this time you surround yourself with people who will love you no matter what you say or do. I personally found the ‘no matter what’ part especially important.

Every <a href="https://glowing.com/glow-fertility-program">IUI</a> cycle also comes with varying degrees of monitoring.

Let’s label them after holidays to indicate the level of commitment needed:

Columbus Day Level of Monitoring – You don’t do anything different. Just keep testing your own LH levels for a surge using OPKs. When you experience the surge, you head into your doctor’s office. Very low key. This is most common with unmediated cycles.

July 4th Level of Monitoring – You are keenly aware that the big day is coming up and that fireworks will need to go off AT THE EXACT RIGHT TIME. Maybe your doctor monitors your hormone levels once or twice prior to your ovulation and you may have a vaginal ultrasound to confirm size of your eggs. You may take a special shot to ensure ovulation. Then the next day, you head in and do your insemination.

Christmas Level of Monitoring – You are literally planning months in advance. Your cycle is heavily medicated and consequently, your doctor does not let you out of their sight. You are in their office practically every day of your cycle until insemination occurs. You have vaginal ultrasounds often, if not daily. You also have blood levels checked almost daily. You start feeling like a pin cushion. You are in countdown mode and almost all other aspects of your life shuts down to make way for the big day.

The Big Day! You made it. Your eggs (one or two of them) are the perfect size. Whether with the help of medication, or not, you will ovulate sometime very soon. You head to the doctor’s office and either your partner or your donor provides sperm. The sperm gets washed. Cleaned. And then using a thin tube, the doctor will place the sperm directly into your uterus via the cervix. This process is uncomfortable but rarely hurts. You may experience some cramping and some spotting. You lay there for a little while. Get dressed, go home, and start obsessively monitoring your body for any symptoms of pregnancy. Within 14 days you will have your results.

Hope that makes things a little clearer! Let us know if you have ANY questions!