What is IUI? Advice for first timers

IUI success IUI fertility treatment

I’ve just had my third cycle of IUI, or intrauterine insemination. My first attempt was nine months ago, shortly after I miscarried and was raring to get pregnant again as soon as possible. We went through two cycles, both unsuccessful and then decided to go back to traditional methods for a while as I was finding it difficult balancing the treatments with work and just found the whole process a bit mechanical.

Nearly one year later and we’re back on it. If you’re not familiar with the procedure, you might be wondering, what is IUI? My husband, rather romantically, calls it turkey basting. Essentially it is a way of getting the little swimmers closer to the target. The doctor takes a sample of your partner’s semen, washes it to make it more concentrated, then inserts it in to your uterus through a thin catheter. This increases the chances of the sperm getting to the fallopian tubes. The rest is down to nature. It’s not for everyone, but if you are struggling to conceive it may be an option you want to consider.

I’ve put together a list of a few useful things you might want to know before you try IUI.

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The need to know


Late on a Sunday afternoon, my husband said to me “you should read this article on pregnancy anxiety – I think it will resonate with you”.

Now hang on a minute, I’m not even pregnant yet – how is this going to be relevant to me? Rowan Martin speaks of the intense paranoia she experienced during her pregnancy – after a “missed miscarriage” with her first pregnancy she became, understandably, anxious about what might happen to her baby when she was expecting again. Her fear took over and she became obsessed with monitoring her baby, even going to the extreme of taking more than 100 pregnancy tests within five weeks and spending nearly £2,000 on private clinics, just to check her baby was still growing.

Whilst my situation is not the same, there are certainly elements of Rowan’s story that I can empathise with, even during the process of trying to get pregnant. When things don’t go to plan, you feel like your body has let you down – how can you trust it again?

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I want to talk about my miscarriage

Yesterday Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and revealed that they had suffered three miscarriages in the last couple of years.

This has made headlines all over the world, but I first came across this news because a friend of mine on Facebook had liked an article on this called ‘why we should talk about miscarriage’. It talked about how Mark Zuckerberg’s post highlighted the ‘taboo’ around miscarriage and called for more people to discuss the issue, rather than going through it alone.

This is all very true. It seems so silly that such a hugely emotional experience should be something that we have to hide away. But even on reading this, I wasn’t sure whether by liking or sharing the post I would be outing myself as someone who had suffered a miscarriage. That’s certainly what I wondered about my friend who had liked it in the first place.

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How to get over yourself and be happy for other people

Once you hit 30 it seems like your Facebook feed is no longer filled with pictures of epic nights out, 4am munchies and drunken selfies. Instead it seems to be dotted with pictures of cherub-cheeked babies and toddlers, parents rejoicing in how much their beloved child continues to amaze them everyday and newly pregnant couples announcing their news to the world with a copy of their 12-week scan.

It’s hard not to feel jealous.

Before my miscarriage I used to really struggle with this. Every time someone announced they were pregnant, my first thought would be ‘that’s not fair, why has it happened to them and not me’, instead of just thinking ‘that’s bloody amazing, congratulations’. Of course the latter would always come out of my mouth, but the envy was always there.

Although we weren’t lucky enough to bring our pregnancy to term, perhaps my perspective has changed a bit now that I know I can conceive. I feel more confident that one day I too will be in their shoes, and because of this I am trying to think not just about my own feelings towards infertility, but about how those close to me are feeling.

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More fertile after miscarriage?

Is it possible that you could be more fertile after miscarrying?

OK, I’ve already googled it and can’t find any credible medical sources that confirm – or deny – this. There are, however, a lot of discussions about this on mummy forums with countless people saying they got pregnant again within three months of miscarriage, and a hell of a lot even saying they got pregnant again within the first cycle.

Some women were saying it could be because the progesterone levels in your system are already higher, helping to support pregnancy and implantation.

I don’t know if this is really true, but it made me feel quite positive thinking that I might be able to get pregnant again so soon. I’m really missing the pregnancy symptoms – every time I take my bra off I wish my boobs would ache again!

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Time to start over

So after all our excitement, before we even made it to the doctor for the first appointment, we got some bad news. I miscarried at 6 weeks 3 days.

It’s hard to describe how that feels. It’s a bit like we had won the lottery and had already quit our jobs and started planning how to spend the money, then two weeks later got a phone call saying actually your ticket was one number out – you had never won at all.

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A miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks. I always knew the first trimester was the first hurdle we had to get through. One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, which seems like a huge number – and once you do miscarry, you realize just how common it is. It’s like you become part of a secret miscarriage club. Suddenly everyone you confide in seems to have gone through the same thing, or knows someone who has.

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