Through my fertility journey as a whole up to this point, I have done 8 medicated and monitored cycles and 5 medicated IUI’s. I remember feeling very hopeful and excited when we started our medicated and monitored cycles and even more excited about my first IUI cycle but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t have any friends who had been through anything like that before. Different doctors may have different philosophies on their IUI process and each patient’s case is unique. I can only speak to my experience but this is what I have consistently experienced through my IUI cycles.
Cycle Day 1-3: Initial appointment where they perform an intravaginal ultrasound to ensure your ovaries are clear of cysts, you have follicles ready to grow and overall everything looks good to move forward.
Cycle Day 3-7: Prescribed oral medication is administered at home in an effort to boost the number of your follicles that grow.
Cycle Day 5-10 (possible more or less): Prescribed injection medication is administered at home. This is an additional effort to boost the follicle growth. This sounds intimidating as many of us have never given ourselves shots but, I promise, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Ensure you get clear instructions from your clinic and often times there are instructional videos.
Cycle Day 10: In-clinic appointment for intravaginal ultrasound to take a baseline count and measurement of follicles and your endometrium lining. It’s often at this appointment that medications are reevaluated based on the growth. They may also add in medication if your lining is not thickening at the rate they want.
Cycle Day 11-14: Depending on what your last appointment revealed, you’ll be brought back next day or in two days for a follicle growth and lining measurement. This monitoring continues every day or every other day until your follicles reach maturity.
Cycle Day 14 (average but often varies): Once your follicles reach maturity, you will be given a trigger shot to trigger ovulation. I receive my trigger by the nursing staff but some doctors allow you to do this at home and will tell you what time to do it.
Cycle Day 15: You’ll come back roughly 24 hours after the trigger shot is administered. If you are using your partner’s sperm, he will need to produce his sample in a cup. The clinic puts the sample through a process called a “wash” where they extract the strongest sperm for the IUI procedure. This process takes about 45-60 minutes and the finished sample is placed in a small catheter. You’ll go back into a standard exam room where they do another ultrasound for a final follicle count and measurement of follicle size and uterus endometrium lining. If all looks good, they will proceed with the IUI. They will insert a speculum, pass the catheter through the cervix (lower part of the uterus) into your uterus and inject the sperm into the uterus closer to where the egg will be in the fallopian tube after it is released by the ovary and picked up by the tube. The procedure takes less than 30 seconds. You’ll lay on your back for 10 minutes, then you’ll be on your way!
Down time or recovery time is not needed for an IUI. I am placed on progesterone starting 3 days after the procedure which helps maintain a pregnancy, should one occur. My clinic tells me to treat my body like I am pregnant which means taking all the same precautions as you would in a pregnancy. I then wait 14 days and take a pregnancy test. If it’s positive, I will remain on the progesterone for the remainder of the first trimester. If the test is negative, I call my doctor and we discuss next steps.