There’s something incredibly overwhelming about first hearing the word “infertile.” Suddenly, this picture of how you always believed your life would work out feels in jeopardy. The options laid out before you are scary and foreign. They’re also the complete opposite of the “fun” you had believed trying to conceive would be.
Still, here you are, considering those options and trying to choose the best path for you. One of those options may be intrauterine insemination (IUI). This is a procedure whereby the sperm is washed (so that only the best of the sample remains) and is then placed directly into your uterus when you are ovulating.
Should you try IUI?
IUI can be beneficial for couples with unexplained infertility or women with cervical mucus problems. It’s not a great option for women with scarred or closed fallopian tubes.
Women have a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting pregnant with each IUI cycle. The more cycles you go through, the better your chances become. But sometimes, as you’re weighing those options, the random numbers can feel a bit cold and hard to relate to.
Instead, it can be helpful to hear from women who have been there. Here’s what they had to say.
IUI success stories and failures
All you need is one
“We attempted medicated cycles (Clomid) at first. It was an epic failure. So then we moved onto IUI, and the first cycle worked! My advice would be to do your research and choose a reproductive endocrinologist you feel most comfortable with. Hopefully it’s someone who has a good reputation with cases similar to yours. We only had one egg when all was said and done, but that one egg fertilized and became our daughter. Believe them when they say that all you need is one!” - Josephine S.
Don’t give up hope
“We had several failed IUIs and then magically got pregnant on our own when we took a one-cycle break before considering in vitro fertilization (IVF). This was after it was said by many that it couldn’t happen. Not everyone will be as lucky as we were. But I’ve heard other stories of couples having a similar experience: They had no luck with IUI, and then suddenly had miracle pregnancies when they decided to take a break for a month or two. Just don’t give up hope.” - Kelly B.
Our multiples pregnancy
“We attempted IUI three times, with the third ending in an ectopic pregnancy. We took a break and thought we’d come to grips with our position. Three years later, we decided to give IUI one more try. We ended up with a triplet pregnancy! One faded, and now we have two healthy babies.” - Deb N.
Our luck with IVF
“We did four IUIs. None of them worked out. That was when we moved onto IVF. We got pregnant on the third attempt. I wish now that we had stopped after the third IUI and gone on to IVF sooner.” - Marsha G.
Work with a specialist
“We did IUI unsuccessfully four times. I tried twice with my OB and then with specialists. After the fourth failure, the specialist said we should try IVF instead. We did IVF four times, two fresh cycles and two frozen. I got pregnant on both frozen cycles, but miscarried early on the first. Today, we have an almost 4-year-old from that second frozen IVF cycle. I think our only mistake was sticking with my OB instead of finding a specialist right away. They just couldn’t provide the same services and weren’t quite set up for the process in the same way.” - Christine B.
My rude awakening
“We had three failed IUIs. But then we miraculously got pregnant naturally a few months later. I think the biggest surprise to me was that the IUI process was incredibly painful. My cervix is twisted and my uterus is tipped. This made the IUI process the most horrendous pain I’ve ever been through. To give some context, I also had an all-natural, drug-free labor. I wish I’d been prepared. Everybody told me it was going to be easy. Luckily, I’ve heard IUI is not more painful than a Pap spear for most people. My doctor said I was only the second patient in their 30 years of practice to have this issue. But it’s important to be aware it could painful, instead of experiencing the rude awakening I had.” - Kari J.
Walking on eggshells
“I had two failed IUIs before moving onto IVF. My doctors were all very adamant about no activity, low stress, and positive thoughts. I was so stressed about not being stressed! After my IVF baby was born, I finally got an endometriosis diagnosis. It turns out, IUI probably never would have worked for me. I wish I hadn’t spent all that time walking around on eggshells.” - Laura N.
My miracle baby
“I have severe polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). My left ovary doesn’t work at all and my pelvis is tilted. We were trying to conceive for two years, with eight rounds of Provera and Clomid, plus trigger shots. It never worked. So then we did an IUI round with the same protocol and got pregnant. I started bleeding at five weeks, was placed on bed rest at 15 weeks, and stayed there until I had an emergency cesarean delivery at 38 weeks. My miracle IUI baby is now 5 years old, healthy, and perfect.” - Erin J.
Finding more control
“Our diagnosis is unexplained infertility. I have done 10 IUIs. The seventh worked, but I miscarried at 10 weeks. The 10th also worked, but I miscarried again at six weeks. All were unexplained. I consider it all a waste of time. We moved onto IVF after that, and the first was successful. I wish we had jumped right to IVF and hadn’t wasted the two years before that. There are just too many unknowns with IUI. With IVF, I felt like there was more control.” - Jen M.
Predicting whether or not IUI will work for you is incredibly subjective. It will vary based on individual circumstances. Most women stress the importance of, and power in, having a doctor you trust. Do your research and seek out a specialist you feel comfortable working with. Together, you can weigh all the pros and cons to determine the best course of action for you.