Trying to conceive can be a roller coaster ride full of loop-de-loops, sudden drops, and sharp turns. One minute you’re riding high with a great chance of conception. Then your period begins and you are brought right back down.
IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is one of the most common treatments for those struggling with infertility. During the IUI procedure, sperm is placed directly into the uterus by a small catheter, with the goal being more sperm reaching the fallopian tube to meet an egg for fertilization. It does not guarantee fertilization or implantation but does greatly decrease the distance sperm has to travel to reach the egg.
This type of treatment is commonly used for:
Low sperm count or decreased motility
Irregular menstrual cycles
Mild to moderate endometriosis
Failure is a common concern for anyone going through fertility treatment. Although IUI is a viable option, it is not always successful.
If you’re on this ride, you’ve likely navigated both an infertility diagnosis (sometimes unexplained) and the possibility that treatment could be unsuccessful. That’s a lot of frustrating information to process. Continuing to invest your time, money, body, and emotions without success can be devastating.
After a failed IUI cycle, you do have options. You may decide to try again using the same protocol or proceed with a different treatment entirely. The path that's right for you will depend on your particular situation and what you are comfortable doing to achieve your fertility goals.
It’s important to discuss this with your fertility team. They can provide valuable insight about trying another IUI cycle. They’ll know whether there are any changes that can be made to increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Possible reasons for an unsuccessful cycle include:
Poor quality eggs
Inability of sperm to reach and/or penetrate the egg
Thin endometrial lining
Incorrect timing of insemination
Opinions vary about how many IUI cycles to try. It is not usually recommended to give up after a single failed cycle. Trying at least three, and up to nine cycles of IUI with mild ovarian stimulation may be appropriate. Ask your reproductive endocrinologist if there are any possible risks of continuing with the same treatment and medication protocol. For example, the oral ovulation induction medication often prescribed with IUI cycles, Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate), is not recommended to be used for more than six cycles without success.
As long as there is no medical concern, you can start another IUI cycle again as soon as you are physically and emotionally ready. Some women want to jump back into treatment with their very next period and do back to back cycles. This is fine! It’s also extremely normal and understandable to take time off to grieve the failed cycle.
Deciding when to move on from IUI and consider other fertility treatment, like IVF, is extremely personal. Take into consideration the emotional toll the failed IUI attempts are taking, how much each cycle costs, and whether you can afford IVF down the road if you continue with IUI treatments. The path that's right for you will depend on your particular situation and what you are comfortable doing to achieve your fertility goals.
Coping with fertility treatment is never easy. It’s normal to feel frustration and sadness amidst the hope and excitement. But remember, one or two failed cycles does not mean you will never succeed. It just may take a little more time. Many women are able to conceive with IUI. Don’t give up hope if it doesn’t happen the first time!
Embrace Fertility offers IVF Cycle Coaching, 1:1 Fertility Support, and Fertility Wellness Programs for your complete fertility and IVF journey. Click here to learn more.