If you’ve read this post, you’ll know that I’m currently going through three cycles of IUI (intrauterine insemination) to try and conceive a second baby, and now that I’ve had my second cycle - there’s some things I wish I’d known beforehand and wanted to share. The lack of information surrounding IUI makes it so much harder to find things out and I would love to share my own personal experiences in order to help someone else out if they are going through or decide to go through IUI too.
What I wish I'd known...
I wish I’d known that without ultrasound scans or a trigger injection, the timing of ovulation is so hard to pinpoint. My clinic do an IUI 24 hours after a positive ovulation test. These ovulation test kits are basically sticks that I pee on at home and they will give me a positive result when I approach my peak fertility. Peak fertility is a hormone called the luteinizing hormone known as LH that rises roughly 24-36 hours before you ovulate.
However, when I got my first positive, I felt ovulation cramping in my right ovary just a few hours later. I’m pretty convinced my first IUI was timed too late because of that. So with my second IUI I insisted that I have it the same day I hit my peak. I never felt ovulation cramping that time, I had some general period-like cramping on the drive to the clinic and afterwards but nothing to indicate I was ovulating from whichever ovary. It’s so hard even when tracking your cycle to pinpoint exactly when your body is going to ovulate and getting the timing of IUI right is crucial to it being successful since frozen, washed sperm doesn’t survive as long as fresh.
If I had known this before, I’m not sure I would have jumped into paying for IUI so quickly? I thought my clinic would have some sort of process in place to track my cycles a bit better but they pretty much just leave it all to me to do at home, and whilst I can use the LH tests I really cannot know when exactly after I hit my peak I’ll ovulate. It’s really hard.
I wish I’d known beforehand how crucial the timing was - you could say that’s my fault for not doing enough research but honestly, I find google to be pretty crap when it comes to finding out info about IUI. Most of the resources I come across, come from other countries such as the USA and the UK clinics work a lot differently to the clinics overseas.
Another factor into why the timing is so crucial, and this is only if you are using a donor from a bank, is that frozen, washed sperm mostly only survives up to 24 hours. Whereas fresh unwashed sperm (like if you are conceiving naturally) can survive for up to 5 days. That's a huge difference and means the timing for IUI has to be pretty spot on.
My clinic tells me to test for my peak once a day in the morning and this is wrong from the amount of research I have done. I’ve also hit my peak early evening so I may have missed it if I hadn’t been testing regularly. Some women hit their peak so fast that they can miss it completely so it’s a must to test regularly, you can just buy a pack of 50 LH strips on amazon for around £15 so you have plenty! I’ve also read almost everywhere that first morning urine isn’t reliable so I usually do a test with my first urine of the day and then do a second one a little later on to double check, plus multiple throughout the day so I don't miss hitting my peak.
I wish I’d known how horrific the two week wait is! Post IUI I have the awful two weeks of constantly wondering if the timing was off or not. After my first IUI I was overthinking every single symptom and couldn't stop doing pregnancy tests even when it was far too early. After my second IUI, I didn't even think about it for a good 12 days and kept myself really busy. It was only as I was approaching my period that I started testing. I'm not sure what my third IUI will bring, but I can see myself not testing at all because you get so tired of the thinking and waiting just to have a negative result.
I'll be going in for my third and final IUI through my clinic in a couple of weeks, and I don't blame my clinic for the last two not working - however, I feel that they could have tracked my cycles better such as doing ultrasound scans etc. So I won't be paying for any more IUI's with them and if anyone is planning on going through this I would advise doing a lot more research into your clinic before handing over such a large amount of money. Ask them every question you can think of, make sure they are giving you the best chances possible to get pregnant. In hindsight I think I probably would have gone somewhere else, but ultimately there are a huge amount of reasons why my two IUIs have failed me.
Like conceiving naturally, it can take time, I get that. However with IUI and because everything is supposed to be timed so perfectly; plus the fact that the sperm is being placed essentially right next to your egg, I would have thought that I'd be pregnant by now considering my age and how fertile I am. If my third go fails again I'm going to be going down a different route, but I just hope that this information helps anyone else who decides to use a clinic and go down the IUI route with a donor - hopefully this information helps you to understand the process a bit more and that you're able to do a bit more research than I did before I started.
Trying to conceive is no easy feat and it's hard to stop the process from getting you down, particularly when you're met with fail after fail - but gaining a lot more knowledge about the facts to do with fertility and the process of IUI definitely helps a lot. Do your research, choose a clinic you trust.