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Couples who are facing infertility issues may try different medical interventions to try to conceive a child. Women who do not ovulate regularly may be prescribed follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). To maximize the chances of success, FSH and intrauterine insemination, in which a doctor uses a catheter to insert the sperm into the uterus, are often used together. FSH therapy increases the chances of ovulation, and intrauterine insemination allows the sperm to bypass the vagina and cervix.
A woman may begin FSH therapy whether her menstrual cycles are irregular or completely absent. The hormone is administered by the patient herself, in the form of daily injections. Dosage varies by patient and may be adjusted as the woman's doctor monitors her condition with blood tests and ultrasound imaging. FSH stimulates maturation of one or more egg cells in the ovaries. Once the eggs are mature, as determined from the ultrasound results, the next step in FSH and intrauterine insemination therapy may begin.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) plays the next important role in reproduction by triggering the release of the mature egg from its follicle. This hormone is an element in human chorionic gonadotopin (HCG), which is given to patients to complete ovulation. If the patient's treatment plan calls for both FSH and intrauterine insemination, the insemination should be scheduled within 36 hours after the HCG is given.
FSH and intrauterine insemination may be completed with sperm from the woman's partner or donor sperm if male infertility issues such as low sperm count are also present. Each sperm sample must contain at least one million healthy sperm. The sample undergoes special procedures to prepare it prior to intrauterine insemination. These procedures include washing, a process that removes substances that may lead to an allergic reaction in the woman, and concentration to ensure the sample contains the maximum number of sperm cells possible.
During intrauterine insemination, the sperm is placed into the uterus via a long, thin catheter. After the procedure, which takes approximately five to ten minutes, the woman may experience slight spotting, but no activity restrictions are necessary. Intrauterine insemination typically has a success rate of 10 to 20 percent.
There are several risks associated with FSH and intrauterine insemination therapy. The most well known is likely the increased chance of multiple births. If the woman's doctor carefully monitors the number of mature eggs during each cycle, however, the possibility of twins may be no more than 10 percent, and higher order multiples births even less likely. Other side effects and risks include pain, infection and the development of ovarian cysts.
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