Patients often ask how many IUIs are appropriate to try
One question our physicians get rather regularly is how many IUIs should you try before moving on to more aggressive treatment. We know our patients are trying to balance success rates with the cost of treatment and the time required for each cycle. So having some idea of when it is appropriate to move on from IUIs to more aggressive treatment may help you feel more in control.
Besides being emotionally taxing, fertility treatment can be expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes it takes more than one cycle of a treatment to achieve the ultimate goal of a pregnancy. And, understandably, you wanted to be pregnant, well, yesterday. But here you are faced with decisions regarding fertility treatment and how long to try one method before turning to another. We hope this blog will help you make this important decision.
An IUI is commonly the first fertility treatment patients will try
An IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is often one of the first treatment protocols for couples having difficulty getting pregnant. During an IUI, prepared sperm is placed directly into the uterus, bypassing one of the bigger hurdles for sperm – the cervix. This procedure is most commonly performed when there are male infertility problems with the sperm, such as low count or low motility, an incompatibility between the sperm and the cervical mucus, as well as for unexplained infertility.
Each cycle of an IUI has about a 10-20% success rate, on average, for women under 35. The odds of successfully conceiving rises with the number of attempts. Therefore, you have about a 30-60% chance of having a baby after trying 3 times.
When IUI gets coupled with an ovulation induction treatment cycle, pregnancy rates can be twice as high. During ovulation induction, the female patient is given a drug such as Clomid, Letrozole, or injectable hormones, to induce ovulation.
What’s the magic number?
But if no pregnancy occurs after several rounds of IUI, when should you call it quits and move on to something else?
This is a question that many couples and single women face when trying to become pregnant using this fertility treatment. The thing is that you will probably need to undergo several attempts of any treatment before you successfully get pregnant. Although some women will be lucky and conceive on their first attempt, for others, pregnancy will only occur after trying a number of times.
Our Louisiana fertility specialists may want you to try several IUIs before suggesting you move on to more aggressive treatment, such as in vitro fertilization. For women under 35, our doctors recommend doing 3 rounds of IUI before considering IVF, but this recommendation can go up to 6 in carefully selected patients. If you are over 35, this recommendation will likely be lower given that age has a profound impact on fertility. Checking your ovarian reserve levels, which decrease with age, is always a good idea before embarking on any fertility treatments.
Talk to your doctor and partner about how many IUIs you want to attempt upfront
Of course, don’t hesitate to have a chat with your doctor to discuss how many IUIs would be appropriate given your unique infertility situation. Depending on your infertility diagnosis as well as other individual factors, your doctor may feel that moving on sooner rather than later is more appropriate or that IUI may not even be the best treatment option.
Additionally, it’s best to be up front and to talk with your practitioner and partner about the number of attempts that you’re willing to try. Before starting any treatment, it’s best to have these frank conversations about what your limits are. Some people feel that three is enough, for others this number might be as high as 6 or even more, while still others may feel they want to go with a treatment option, like IVF, that has higher success rates per try. A lot of this depends on your own unique diagnosis, your financial situation, and how crucial time is to your treatment process.