IUI at Home

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS IN NO WAY A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ADVICE OR TREATMENT OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR MIDWIFE. WE HAVE CHOSEN TO SHARE OUR PROCESS IN AN EFFORT TO HELP THOSE WHO MAY NOT HAVE ACCESS TO IUI IN A CLINIC, OR MAY NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD THOSE SERVICES. AS ALWAYS, CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL WITH ANY CONCERNS.

We decided to do our IUI’s at home, partly because Kelly is a nurse and felt comfortable doing the procedure, but also because our insurance doesn’t cover fertility treatments so it was the best option for us financially.

Please note, it is important NOT to use fresh sperm for an IUI. In order to put sperm into the uterus, it must be washed. Unwashed sperm presents a huge risk for cramping, infection, and possibly even shock. We purchased straws of IUI-prepared (washed) sperm from our bank.

Timing Ovulation

Every physician has a different recommendation when it comes to how and when to test for ovulation. We read all about it on the internet, and ultimately chose to use the ClearBlue Digital Ovulation Test. There is conflicting information as to when to test – some say once a day, some say twice, some say to test with first morning urine, some say it’s best to test later in the day at the same time each day. We decided to test with every urine starting on CD14. We were afraid if the LH Surge didn’t last long enough, we would miss it, and that wasn’t a chance we were willing to take. And as it turned out, we got a smiley around 8:30pm, and by the morning, it was gone. So, we really believe we would have missed it had we only tested once or twice a day. But do what feels right for you.

Timing Insemination

This is something you will find a ton of conflicting information on, even from physician to physician. The first month we did IUI (January 2016), we used two straws of MOT5 and did one insemination at 12 hours after +OPK and another at 24 hours after +OPK. The second month we did IUI (April 2016), we used one straw of MOT20 and did one insemination at 24 hours after +OPK. Both IUIs were unsuccessful. Just today, we saw a new OB/GYN who recommended doing the insemination as soon as possible after +OPK.

It is important to note that ovulation occurs anywhere from 6-36  hours after the LH surge. Once the egg is released, it has about a 24 hour life span. Frozen sperm are thought to live for about 6-72 hours once thawed (the most common belief being about 24 hours). Fresh sperm does live much longer (up to 5 days) but cannot be used for IUI. The ideal window is to do the IUI just before or within 6-12 hours of the egg being released.

Supplies We Used

What We Did

We decided to do our IUI in our bedroom. Jaci laid on the edge of the bed and we used folded towels over the backs of two dining room chairs for her legs. We put a clean towel on the dresser, and put all of our supplies on the towel so they would be within easy reach. We removed the straw from the nitrogen tank and set a timer for 15 minutes, per our bank’s instructions. When the timer went off, I cleaned the straw with an alcohol pad, cut one end off of the straw and attached the syringe adapter, then drew up 0.5mL of air into the syringe, and attached the syringe to the adapter. I then cut the remaining end off of the straw, and Jaci held it upright while I got the next step set up. If your bank provides your specimen in straws, you will probably do something very similar to this. If they provide it in vials, you will first draw up the same amount of air as the volume of the specimen, then draw the specimen into the syringe. The air insures that the whole specimen makes it into the uterus. I used the speculum, along with the headlamp, to locate Jaci’s cervix. If you don’t see the cervix, try pulling the speculum back slightly. It is possible that you went a little too far and pinned the cervix against the wall of the vagina. Pulling back slightly should allow the cervix to pop into view. I then inserted the end of the straw through the cervix, until I felt resistance. Do not force the catheter, as you can damage the inside of the uterus. It should go in approximately 4 cm. Once the catheter is in place, you want to depress the plunger very, very slowly. It is important to take your time on this step, as you don’t want any of the specimen to leak out. If you see some leaking, just go a little slower or angle the syringe slightly and continue. Make sure you adjust the headlamp so you can clearly see what you are doing. Once the straw is empty and the plunger is fully depressed, let it sit inside the uterus for a minute or so to let any sperm that might be on the end of the straw swim off, then remove it slowly. Remove the speculum and insert an Instead Softcup so any leakage/sperm that may have gotten outside of the cervix will be trapped in the right spot to encourage them to swim back into the uterus. You can keep the Softcup in for up to 12 hours, so Jaci slept in it and removed it in the morning.

Final Thoughts

Remember that the biggest risk with an IUI is infection. It is important to make sure your space is clean, your hands are clean, and anything you’re inserting is clean. If you have any trouble finding the cervix, or if you need an idea of what you’re looking for, check out beautifulcervix.com for pictures. Also, there is technically no reason to lay down, or to elevate your bottom, after the IUI, but we figured it couldn’t hurt. We chose to prop Jaci up with a couple pillows under her bottom for about 30 minutes. Some people believe having an orgasm can help, but there is no evidence one way or the other. The way we see it, it can’t hurt. 🙂

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask!

Good luck, Fingers Crossed, and Baby Dust!

-Kelly & Jaci

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