While uncomfortable, some cramping after intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure is normal. If you are exploring your fertility options, find out about the benefits and risks of IUI. Most risks and side effects are minor, such as cramping or minor pain after an IUI.
More than 7.3 million Americans suffer from infertility. Modern medicine has unveiled a host of options for couples who have not had success conceiving after a year of repeated attempts. The IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedure is a simple fertility solution. It entails the threading of a thin catheter through the cervix, which carries washed sperm into a woman's uterus. The process is quick, lasting only minutes once all of the preparations are made. However, timing is crucial to the success of the procedure. Some sources indicate the ideal time to undergo IUI is within six hours of ovulation. Generally, between six and 26 percent of women who receive the treatment report success. However, those numbers may vary, based upon the sperm quality.
Risks of IUI
The following are some of the risks associated with IUI:
- Multiple gestation pregnancies may occur in approximately 20 to 30 percent of women
- Minor injury to the cervix, which may cause bleeding or spotting
- Vaginal infection
- Hyperstimulation, which can occur with the use of fertility medications
Cramping After IUI
Most women consider an IUI mild in terms of pain. Some compare the procedure to a pap smear, with light discomfort and irritation. Cramping is a common side effect, occurring after an IUI. More discomfort is likely if the doctor had trouble reaching the cervix. Some over-the-counter pain medications may be helpful; however, it's best to speak with a doctor before consuming any medications when you are attempting pregnancy.
Benefits of IUI
Some people consider the IUI to be controversial fertility method, spurring debates about the ethics of the procedure. However, many couples view the procedure as an opportunity to create the family they desire using a safe, contemporary approach. The benefits of IUI include:
- Gender selection - couples may have an influence on the gender of their child with sperm washing techniques that are said to determine the sex of the child with close to 90 percent accuracy.
- Safety and simplicity - the procedure is both fast and simple, requiring little preparation.
- Medication-free option - IUI can be done without drugs to induce ovulation.
- Less expensive than other options - for hopeful parents on a budget, IUI may be among the most practical options available.
Where Is IUI Performed
IUI is typically performed in a fertility clinic or OBGYN's office. Some women have the procedure done in their homes, performed by a midwife or other experienced professional. Regardless of where the procedure takes place, the most significant step is the sperm washing, which must be done to prevent infection.
Following an IUI procedure, most women are able to resume normal activity. Often, there are few restrictions, though doctors will decide what activities are appropriate and which should be avoided. Some women fear certain activities will inhibit the implantation of the sperm or cause it to fall out. However, once the sperm is injected, it stays put. Most couples are free to have intercourse and resume normal activity immediately following the procedure.
Now that you have learned the basics of IUI, you may be ready to experiment with the procedure. Ask your doctor about the specifics. Women who wonder about cramping after an IUI may be pleased to learn that the symptom is a mild side effect of a typically safe procedure.