IUI Treatment Failure: Reasons, Symptoms & What You Need To Do?

Failed IUI – Possible Reasons, Symptoms and Solutions

A fairly inexpensive infertility treatment, Intrauterine Insemination is a type of artificial insemination which is generally the first line of treatment for infertility opted for by couples who are unable to conceive for over a year. The method involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s uterus. Patients, therefore have a high expectation of its successful outcome. However, doctors avoid telling the patients that the success rate is only 10 to 15 per cent. The situation of failed IUI happens occurs when the sperm are functionally incompetent and many other reasons cater to its low success rate. It is not just tried once but multiple times to get the desired outcome.

The only symptom indicating the failure of IUI is getting the menstrual periods or it might lead to abortion. If there happens to be any chromosomal abnormality then severe cramping can be a symptom that there will be pregnancy loss. One should move to some other treatment after failure of the IUI treatment. Though a little complicated, the IVF treatment which is slightly more costly follows next. It is suggested that you should go through the emotional toll of failure only thrice and then you must move to the next option. Some studies suggest that it is reasonable to conduct up to nine IUI cycles for a better chance of conceiving.

Why IUI Treatment Might Fail

The IUI treatment is primarily preferred by couples who face problems in conceiving due to some reason. Without causing much discomfort or pain this treatment does not require much technical expertise. As it is less invasive and cost-effective it is preferred by many couples as the first line of treatment. The causes of IUI failure are varied. Given below are some major reasons why it ends in dejection among patients.

1. Problem in Ovulation

If the patient has any mild ovulation problem then the pregnancy gets terminated.

2. Progesterone Deficiency

Initially, progesterone is necessary to support pregnancy and so, a deficiency of progesterone can lead to IUI failure.

IUI Treatment

3. Timing of Ovulation

The timing of the process has to be perfect. During the stay of the egg for 12 to 24 hours in the fallopian tube, if it is not fertilized by the sperm then it disintegrates.

4. Improper Endometrial Lining

If the egg that is fertilized is not able to embed itself in the cavity, then the IUI process fails because of the improper endometrial lining.

5. Inferior Quality Sperm

No egg can be fertilized by poor-quality sperm and so the process becomes unsuccessful.

6. Poor Quality of Eggs

If the chromosomal quality of eggs is poor then it will be unable to divide after fertilization.

7. Increased Age

The increased age of the mother spoils the quality of eggs, and so the IUI procedure fails.

Are There Any IUI Failure Symptoms

IUI treatment is opted for when a couple faces problems like low sperm count, ejaculation problems, decreased sperm motility, hostile cervical mucus or any other unexplained infertility issues. The failure of IUI does not show any specific symptoms to indicate its failure. However, if there happens to be any vaginal discharge, cramping or severe discomfort then you must consult the doctor immediately. The failure will either lead to the starting of the menstrual cycle or else culminate in an abortion. Spontaneous abortion happens if there is any chromosomal abnormality. The health care professional should be consulted when any complication is observed.

How Many IUI Treatments One Should Try?

Couple having conversation with the doctor

The prospect of a successful pregnancy is exciting. If you are below 40 years of age and are struggling due to infertility, it is recommended that you should try IUI for three cycles and then move on to the next option. Even if you try for cycles 4 to 6, it has been generally observed that the success rate drops further. Women above 40 should go for only one cycle only and then opt for the next. Seek the guidance of a health professional who will be the best person to judge the situation and advice accordingly.

What Should You Do After IUI Failure?

In cases where the IUI treatment fails,

  • Seek out the next line of action. If the patient has a history of three to four failed IUI cycles then it is obvious that the process is not suitable.
  • If the patient is above 35 years of age, then the IUI cycles do not produce a favourable result. The couple then should choose to go for IVF treatment.
  • If the ovarian reserve is very low it will lead to difficulties in becoming pregnant.

Intrauterine Insemination failure is quite a common thing. It is very well understood that the patient invests time, money and emotional energy and has high expectations which end up in frustration when the pregnancy does not follow through. Many patients fall in a dilemma and think after failing IUI now what? If the first IUI fails, you should persevere and go for the second cycle because the second cycle might stimulate ovulation when the first cycle failed. IUI failed twice should also not give up hope and try for the third cycle as the number of insemination cycles depends on the prognosis. Couples have tried up to nine cycles of IUI and the success rate each time becomes lesser. Natural pregnancy after failed IUI is very difficult. Therefore the next option which is a little expensive and invasive is IVF after failed IUI.

IUI comes as a great source of hope and relief for those mothers who face problems in conceiving. Though many mothers have been blessed by the use of technology, some are not able to conceive even after trying many cycles of it. IVF treatment is the next option which is far more expensive and invasive. Even this does not guarantee success but in most cases the first trial ensures pregnancy and if not, then one can go for several more rounds for absolute success.

A silver ray of hope begins with the first cycle of IUI treatment. Anticipation, excitement, and trepidation are mixed feelings which captivate the patients.


1. Intrauterine insemination (IUI); Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/intrauterine-insemination/about/pac-20384722

2. Custers. I. M, Steures. P, Hompes. P, et al.; Intrauterine insemination: how many cycles should we perform?; Human Reproduction, Volume 23, Pages 885–888; Oxford Academic; https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/23/4/885/621286?login=false; April 2008

3. Intrauterine insemination (IUI); NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/artificial-insemination/

4. The Difference Between IUI and IVF; Society For Assisted Reproductive Technology; https://www.sart.org/patients/fyi-videos/the-difference-between-iui-and-ivf/

5. Campana. A, Sakkas. D, Stalberg. A, et al.; Intrauterine insemination: evaluation of the results according to the woman’s age, sperm quality, total sperm count per insemination and life table analysis; Human Reproduction, Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 732–736; Oxford Academic; https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/11/4/732/624726?login=false; April 1996

Also Read:

IUI or IVF : Which is Good for You
IUI Success Tips to Increase Chances of Pregnancy
Complications and Side Effects of IUI Treatment

Previous article «
Next article »