Knowing the actual acronym and what it stands for puts you ahead of the crowd already. ICI (intracervical insemination) is the placement of sperm inside the vagina, more specifically the cervix. Now, IUI (interuterine insemination) is the placement of sperm inside of the uterus for hopes of aiding in pregnancy.
Because the uterus is past the cervix it is imperative that the sperm be “washed”. If you use sperm that is “unwashed” it will most likely cause harm to the woman being inseminated. She will become very sick, often minutes after. If any abnormal signs like vomiting occur, consult your physician. The term “wash” is relative as sperm is not going through any sort of washing cycle. It does however mix with a sperm wash media, to remove seminal fluid which contains prostaglandins that would cause painful cramping of the uterus. You must only use this “washed” sperm for IUI.
You may use washed or unwashed sperm for ICI. Most will use only unwashed sperm simply because there is no benefit to washed sperm when placing inside the cervix. You are not required to place inside of the cervix, but placing as close to the cervix as possible will aid in getting to the egg quicker which means higher chances!
With artificial insemination, timing with either procedure is crucial. However, timing with IUI is even more crucial due to the location of the sperm. Frozen sperm already has a far-less long lifespan as that of fresh sperm. Where fresh sperm can last up to 5 days inside the woman, frozen sperm has usually 1-2 day maximum. IUI must happen the day of ovulation for these reasons. ICI on the other hand can happen before ovulation, and is often recommended.
Before you buy two vials of sperm for an IUI procedure, discuss success with the physician. According to some resources, inseminating twice with IUI does not show significant results than of those who only inseminated once.
Which procedure will we be using? The jury is still out on this one. We will still be consulting with our physician, determining their advice, and deciding from there. As soon as I know, you’ll know!