Even though the success margin of Intrauterine Insemination, IUI, is very slim, since there is not much difference between it and the actual bedroom action, there are still people it works for, and there are still TTC couples who will consider it first and foremost, before any other advanced medical interventions.
And that’s okay, if that’s what they can conveniently accept at that point in their journey. That was the only choice Jennifer and her husband, Sola, were willing to consider when they were TTC. They had been waiting for a year before their doctor suggested IUI in the same breath as IVF, and they sort of just latched unto the IUI part of his statement. IVF made their fertility challenge seem dreary. Their doctor’s attempt to change their mind failed, so they were booked in for IUI.
Having a healthy dose of cynicism, both Jennifer and her husband weren’t really expecting the cycle to work, at least not the first time, so they were prepared to try and try again.
At the appointed time, they hopped on the fertility train and it took them through follicular tracking, to the trigger shot, the IUI procedure, and then the almighty progesterone to increase the odds of conception.
Fingers crossed, Jennifer entered the 2WW nervous, but that’s nothing new, as nervousness is one of the hallmarks of the 2WW. And then entered the symptoms; first, it was the bloating she felt, followed by several days of mindless tiredness. She was so tired and sleeping at the most inappropriate places and times, that people were asking her if she was fine.
As though that wasn’t enough, she developed a ravenous appetite. She ate everything in sight and while she was wondering what prompted that, it was radio silence on the symptoms front.
This was almost five days before her test day, and she was feeling no symptoms. Jennifer was already gutted that the cycle hadn’t work out for her. Remember that she had expected it not to work, but when it started to really look like it didn’t, she was sad nonetheless.
Happily, Jennifer got pregnant that cycle.
When her test came back positive, she wasn’t still sure, and she asked for more comprehensive testing to be done, to check out her numbers. It was when the numbers came back really high that she started to believe she was really pregnant.
Like most TTC moms who go through IUI, or any assisted reproductive technique for that matter, there is often the need to know how soon they will know whether it worked, what symptoms they should be looking out for, and whether there is anything they can do to boost their chances while they wait.
This article sheds more light on those concerns.
In an IUI procedure, the actual insemination is carefully timed to ensure that the procedure takes place within hours of ovulation. In most cases, like that of Jennifer’, small doses of fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries and a trigger shot is given to prompt ovulation and then the insemination.
Only in very few cases is IUI timed to a woman’s natural cycle. Once insemination has taken place, it is now entirely in the hands of nature, if conception will take place or not.
What science has been able to decipher are the facts that, for the female, the egg is only viable for fertilization for 12 to 24 hours once she has ovulated, hence sperm and the egg must meet within this window for fertilization to occur.
The next step of pregnancy is for the fertilized egg to implant in the lining of the uterus. This may take anywhere from 3 to 12 days. For about 40 women who get pregnant after ovulation, implantation occurs by the 9th day.
Signs and symptoms to expect:
While cramping and implantation bleeding are somewhat common as signs that conception has happened, they are only indicative, not confirmatory. Unfortunately, that is the same for other symptoms of IUI; they really offer no guarantee, just guesses.
Increased vaginal discharge:
Now, this is quite common after an IUI procedure. The excess discharge isn’t coming from the uterus. It is actually cervical mucus which has been dislodged during the IUI procedure.
This is another symptom that women regularly feel during the 2WW. While it could signal implantation, it could also be a sign of PMS, or one of the side effects of the IUI procedure, so you never can really tell which is which.
Sex after IUI:
You may be allowed to have sex after the IUI procedure. This doesn’t happen in all circumstances, but you may be encouraged to have sex after your IUI procedure. Although not immediately, as you may need to wait a day or two. It’s fine, as I pointed out earlier, IUI is only a step higher than your regular baby dance.
Now to more serious symptoms:
First of all, if you do experience spotting after your IUI, it is likely that it was caused by the IUI catheter.
Apart from the above, implantation of the embryo can cause some uterine cells to dislodge from the uterine lining. If conception has actually happened, then these few dislodged cells may sometimes be discharged and appear as slight spotting, when you miss your period.
Implantation spotting is usually pink or light brown, rather than bright red, as a period bleeding will be. This is usually a very minimal amount of blood, hence the bleeding is short. Some women don’t notice it at and some confuse with a very light period.
Apart from spotting, cramping is also another common sign of implantation.
Slight crampy twinges or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen could be a sign of implantation, it may be a sign of impending menstruation, or it could be caused by the IUI procedure. Some women describe the feeling of implantation cramping as pinching or tingling below the navel, or as slight gas pains.
Given the fact that these symptoms and signs don’t necessarily point at the success or otherwise of an IUI procedure, the best bet is still to wait till test date.
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