Clean As A Whistle For IUI

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a tricky procedure with lots of detail to cover to make sure everything goes as it should. Doctors have learned a lot through the years about how to increase the chances that an IUI procedure will result in conception. One step that makes a big difference in conception rates is sperm washing.

Extraneous Material

Semen consists of seminal fluid, sperm cells, and detritus like mucus, white cells, fat globules, and dead sperm. All this extraneous material is of no concern for couples who have no difficulty conceiving, but for those couples undergoing IUI, it's important to rid sperm of this debris to make sure the procedure results in pregnancy. Washing sperm means that only active healthy sperm will be delivered to the uterus.

Toxic Prostaglandins

Seminal fluid is produced in the main by the prostate gland and because of this, contains a substance known as prostaglandins. This chemical substance plays a role in many physical processes, including smooth muscle contraction and menstrual cramps. Prostaglandins exist in small amounts in various areas of the body, but the levels of this substance found in seminal fluid are quite high.

During normal sexual intercourse, the prostaglandins don't create any problems, but injecting untreated semen into a woman's uterus would introduce too much of these prostaglandins into her system. Such high levels of prostaglandins would cause a woman severe pain, and might even cause heart failure and death. Ridding sperm of prostaglandins is therefore a very necessary step that must be performed before any IUI procedure.

Spin The Tube

There are various methods of washing sperm. One simple method is to dilute the semen, place it in a tube, and make use of a centrifuge to spin the tube and separate the mix into layers. The best sperm will be found at the bottom of the tube and can be drawn up into a syringe for use during the insemination. The various methods of sperm washing have their different proponents but none of the procedures should take longer than an hour and a half to complete.

Intrauterine insemination offers a better chance of achieving pregnancy than would the mere placement of sperm in a woman's cervix, but IUI can only be performed once the prostaglandins are removed by one or the other of the sperm washing techniques to avoid the prostaglandin-associated risks. IUI is often helpful when infertility is related to male infertility, endometriosis, cervical stenosis, sperm allergy, or unexplained infertility.