I don’t know about everyone else, but for me the IUI process was pretty overwhelming at first. The concept was simple; but the details were stressing me out! I didn’t know when to call the clinic or when to take my medicine or when I needed to go in to the office … I was so afraid that I was going to do something wrong! So, to make it less confusing, I decided to break down my experience into 10 easy steps!It’s crucial to call the clinic on the first day of your cycle. This allows them ample time to send in any prescriptions you may need, schedule a base scan (if applicable), and schedule a follicle scan. Since my clinic didn’t offer me a base scan, and my doctor had already written my prescriptions during our first consultation, all I needed to do was schedule my follicle scan. So, after a comical game of phone tag, I got in touch with a nurse who scheduled my ultrasound for Monday, September 29th at 9:00am! Let the fun begin!
This step will probably be different for each individual. Some couples may choose to do un-medicated IUIs, while others may opt to use medication because it is said to increase your chances of conceiving. The medication that your doctor prescribes is based on what your infertility diagnosis is. Some may recommend Clomid or Femara, while others may suggest Gonadotropin injections. From what I understand, all three medications serve the same purpose, to nurture the growth of follicles and to help ovulation take place. Since I didn’t have any success with 6 rounds of Clomid, my doctor recommended trying Femara (Letrozole). So, I started taking 5mg of Femara on CD3, as instructed, and continued to take it through CD7. Thankfully, the only side effect I experienced was fatigue. But let me say, this wasn’t just any fatigue … this was a go to sleep at 7:00pm, wake up at 6:30am and I still want to take a nap kind of fatigue. It was insane. Fortunately, that lasted for only a few days and then I was back to normal!If you are using fertility medication in conjunction with your IUI you will most likely have an internal ultrasound to access your follicle growth. This is typically scheduled for CD11 or CD12. Mine was scheduled on the morning of CD11. Because of my PCOS, I was skeptical that I was going to have any good follicles. But, I was pleasantly surprised when he said I had 2-3 maturing follicles, each around 14mm! I couldn’t have been more relieved. (I’ll admit it; I gave my ovaries a mental high-five for actually doing something right!) My doctor seemed pleased with my follicles and my weight loss so far (17.6 lbs!) so we scheduled the Ovidrel trigger shot (a shot used to trigger ovulation) for Wednesday, October 1st and the IUI for Friday, October 3rd! Yay for progress!!!In typical Amity fashion, I immediately started obsessing over the trigger shot. I dislike getting shots at a doctor’s office, so the thought of getting a shot in my house by a non-professional was freaking me out! (No offense, Ryan!) I’m sure we could have come into the office if we wanted, but who wants to pay for yet ANOTHER office visit?!? Not me! My doctor walked Ryan through the process … “Just hold it like a dart.” … Um, what?!? I have filled hundreds of dart holes in my walls, so this analogy was less than comforting. Ryan, however, seemed very confident (and a little too eager if you ask me) about giving me the shot.
Trigger day arrived and I was a nervous wreck. Since our IUI was scheduled in the afternoon, we were instructed to wait until 10:00pm-12:45am to “pull the trigger”, if you will. Around 11:00pm I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to get it over with. Ryan prepped the shot (meaning he took it out of the fridge) while I cleaned the injection site. My doctor gave us the option of administering the shot in the front of either thigh or the lower abdomen. I chose my left thigh. I sat on the couch and tried to relax while he gave me the shot. Once again I had worked myself up over nothing. I only felt a slight pinch and that was it! Quick and painless! I didn’t even need the Band-Aid that I insisted on having right beside me. Ryan did great and I could finally relax! Friday couldn’t get here soon enough …This step is obviously optional, but it’s fun for your husband to wear a “Stand Back, I’m Going to Try Science!” shirt to any medical procedure, right? I wore some pretty awesome socks my sister gave me for Christmas that say “I’m not obsessive, I’m compulsively awesome!” I’m pretty sure no one else noticed these amazing socks, but at least they made me happy!Most clinics should give you the option to either collect at home or in office. Both have pros and cons. If you collect at home, your partner may be more comfortable, but you have a limited window of time to get the sample back to the lab. (Typically 30-45 minutes) If you collect in office your partner may be less comfortable, but you won’t have to worry about making it to the lab in time. It’s really just a personal choice. We chose to do an in office collection because we live pretty far away from the lab and I was not about to take any chances with such precious cargo! After the sample was collected, it was washed and evaluated. Typically they will evaluate the sperm in terms of count (the number of sperm per cc), motility (the percentage of moving sperm), and morphology (the shape of the sperm.) Since Ryan’s previous semen analysis came back great, I wasn’t surprised by his awesome results! His post-wash count was 77 million with 94% motility and 4% morphology! Perfect!Once we picked up the sample (5 minutes before the procedure), we headed back to the main clinic right across the hall with our non-conspicuous white bag in tow. If I had to explain how I felt in one word it would be AWKWARD! I couldn’t get past the fact that I was sitting in a waiting room holding a bag of my husband’s sperm that was going to be injected into me very, very soon. Weird. At least there were only a few other people in the waiting room!
They quickly called us back and directed us to our room. The nurse motioned for me to set the sample on the counter and instructed me to undress from the waist down. Since my regular doctor was performing surgeries the day of my IUI, one of his colleagues was going to be doing the actual procedure. I had heard that this specific doctor had horrible bedside manners, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled to meet him. But once I met him, I was relieved to find that he was actually really nice! So far, so good! He quickly explained the procedure and dove right on in. (pun intended) He inserted the speculum, just like an annual exam and began inserting the catheter. As anticipated, my tight cervix gave him some problems, but he eventually got it in with only minor discomfort on my part. He jokingly instructed me to “bring my easy cervix next time!” (I wish!) Once the catheter was in place he injected millions of sperm into my uterus, removed the speculum, and that was it. Quick and painless! The whole procedure lasted about 5 minutes, if that. He recommended lying there for 10-15 minutes and then we were free to go. We, of course, chose to stay there for the full 15 minutes to make sure that everything got to where it needed to be!You know it’s bad when you start using IUIs as a currency … “This freelance job is 2/3 of an IUI!” But in all seriousness, the cost of an IUI is pocket change compared to IVF and other more invasive treatments. So we really have nothing to complain about! Below is what we paid out of pocket for our first IUI.
$8.84 Femara Prescription
$129.44 Ovidrel Prescription
$350.00 Ultrasound: Follicle Scan ($125 Office Visit + $225 Ultrasound)
$275.00 Sperm Collection & Washing ($200 Washing + $75 Morphology Test)
$200.00 IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
$85.00 Beta HCG Test (Pregnancy Test)
Total Cost: $1,048.28
Now for the dreaded two-week wait … as anticipated, this proved to be the longest TWW in history! Because I am paranoid, I tried to do as little as possible during these two weeks. (I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize our chances!) So, instead of doing anything productive, I opted to sit around and obsessively analyze my “symptoms” all day long.On CD13, I called to schedule a blood test for CD14. My appointment was for 9:15am, but since we got there early they went ahead and took us back. The whole thing was quick and painless and we where in and out of the office within 15 minutes. Our doctor guaranteed results by 5:00pm … so now all we had to do was wait anxiously by the phone. After the longest 5 hours of my life, they finally called with the results. Negative. Even though I had a feeling it would be negative, it was still heartbreaking for both of us. But, as usual, Ryan was right there to comfort me, even though he was upset too. (Have I mentioned how awesome he is? Because he is.) The nurse instructed me to call back in a few days if I hadn’t started my period and they would give me something to jump start my next cycle. Most doctors choose Provera for this. Luckily, I started the following morning so I didn’t have to take any additional medicine!
And that’s it! On to the next cycle …
Check back soon to learn about my second IUI experience! (It was definitely different!)
Feel free to leave a comment below or message me with any questions. I would love to hear from you!
Read more about my TTC Journey here.