What to Expect After Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

By (gynecologist), (embryologist) and (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 01/09/2019

After undergoing an Artificial Insemination (AI) cycle, whether it is Artificial Insemination by Husband (AIH) or Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID), patients must wait for at least 15 days approximately before taking a pregnancy test to confirm if the AI cycle has been successful or not.

These 15-day period is known as 2WW, which is the abbreviation of Two-Week Wait. During this time period, the woman can continue with her normal routine, except in certain exceptional cases where the doctor indicates bed rest. Moreover, it is possible that you feel a series of symptoms associated with hormone medications, which can be confused by pregnancy symptoms.

Rest following AI

An Artificial Insemination (AI) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycle finishes with the insertion of a sample of capacitated sperm inside the uterus of the woman with the help of a flexible cannula. Egg-sperm binding will occur as in natural fertilization within a few hours or days.

This procedure is carried out at the doctor's office, which means surgery is not necessary. In fact, it is a very simple, painless procedure.

Did you know that we can help you to choose a fertility clinic for your IUI cycle? All you have to do is get your Fertility Report now. It is an easy-to-use tool that is capable of filtering the best clinics and tailor an individual report exclusively for you with useful tips that will help you make a well informed decision.

Once the insemination is done, rest is advisable for at least 15-25 minutes, either lying on your back on the examination table or at the recovery room for further comfort and relax.

After this rest time at the clinic, bed rest is not recommended and does not include the chances of success, unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.

After the woman or couple leave the clinic, the patient can continue with her normal lifestyle, including going to work, driving, doing leisure activities like walking or going to the cinema, etc.

Waiting time

Right after intrauterine insemination, a period that is commonly known as two-week wait (2WW) starts. When it finishes, it will be time for you to take a pregnancy test.

The 2WW following IUI has an approximate duration of 15 days. During this period, having feelings of uncertainty is normal. Moreover, it is likely that you feel some of the side effects of hormone medications.

Symptoms after IUI

It is common for women to receive, from the moment of insemination on, hormone medications with progesterone in order to keep the endometrial lining in optimal conditions to receive the embryo and favor its implantation.

Progesterone administration during the two-week wait, along with the use of other fertility drugs during ovarian stimulation, can cause some side effects of variable severity in the patient.

The following is a list of the most common symptoms to expect following IUI:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping (pelvic pain) due to the passage of the cannula
  • Brown spotting
  • Frequent urge to pee
  • Swollen and tender breasts
  • Watery or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Fatigue

Women usually confuse these side effects of fertility drugs for pregnancy symptoms, which is a mistake. These discomforts are common after IUI cycles, and can appear regardless of whether the outcome of the treatment is a negative or positive one.

When to take a pregnancy test

You should take a pregnancy test, whether in urine or blood, on the date your doctor determines. The most common is to wait for 15 days following AI, a reasonable period of time for hCG hormone to be produced and its levels to be detectable by pregnancy tests.

If the pregnancy test is taken too early, you might get a false negative result because hCG are still too low for being detectable. Also, you might get a false positive result if you take a test very early, since it would detect the presence of hCG used to induced ovulation in IUI cycles.

To learn more about the recommended time for you to get an accurate result after taking a pregnancy test, read: When to Do a Pregnancy Test? – How to Use, Results & Accuracy.

As regards the type of test to choose, in urine or blood, both are accurate if taken when appropriate. Nonetheless, one should consider taking a blood pregnancy test, as it is more reliable, especially after undergoing a fertility treatment.

In case you get a negative result, you are expected to have a vaginal bleeding due to your menstrual period showing up within a few days. During the beginning of the cycle, you can give IUI another try in case the result is negative, as IUI cycles can be done consecutively.

Tips to follow

Generally, it is recommended that you continue with your normal lifestyle after undergoing an IUI cycle, unless your job runs a great level of risk or is a too demanding position. In these cases, your doctor may indicate that you take some time off work.

Aside from this, the following are some tips that may be helpful for women after being artificially inseminated:

  • Have sexual intercourse before 8-12 hours after IUI, since uterine contractions will help sperm ascend through your reproductive tract.
  • Avoid great physical efforts like carrying too much weight or too vigorous sports. In the latter case, you can replace these activities for moderate exercise.
  • Do not become obsessed with potential symptoms or try to associated them with pregnancy.
  • Try to forget about the final outcome. You should stay positive above all, but at the same time get mentally prepared for a potential negative result.
  • Stay busy: it will help to reduce stress levels associated to treatment. We recommend that you schedule different activities for the 2WW.
  • Ask your doctor in case your symptoms become too painful or you have a heavy vaginal bleeding before your expected period due date.
  • Share your feelings with your partner and try to support each other.

FAQs from users

How long does artificial insemination last and how long should I stay in the clinic afterwards?

By Esther Marbán Bermejo M.D. (gynecologist).

The duration of artificial insemination is usually about 5 minutes if there is no problem. After the process, the patient will rest for 20-30 minutes and then leave the clinic with the instructions until the day of the pregnancy test.

Rest after insemination is not obligatory, as no evidence exists that it improves the pregnancy rate.
Read more

Is bed rest necessary after intrauterine insemination?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

After intrauterine insemination, your doctor may recommend that you stay in bed for a few minutes in order to favor the journey of sperm inside your reproductive tract and for you to recover from the procedure as well. However, several studies have confirmed that rest following IUI does not increase chances of success.

Once you return home, you can continue with your normal routines and lifestyle, always avoiding great efforts and heavy weight lifting.

Is bleeding normal after intrauterine insemination?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No, it is not. However, you might experience a mild spotting or bleeding as a side effect of the insemination itself, due to the passage of the cannula through the cervix.

On the other hand, if you have a heavy bleeding several days after IUI, it is likely that it is menstrual flow. In that case, it would mean that the treatment has failed.

Does intrauterine insemination hurt?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Not in principle. This is the reason why the procedure is carried out without anesthesia. On the other hand, it is likely that the patient has mild discomfort or symptoms like cramping or abdominal pain following the insemination.

In any case, and as long as it is not an intense pain, it should not be an alarming symptom. In the few cases where pain is unbearable, we recommend that you visit your doctor.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy after a positive IUI result?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Pregnancy symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman. While some start noticing the first pregnancy symptoms right after the procedure, others do not have any symptom for the moment.

In any case, having symptoms of pregnancy earlier than 15 days after IUI is uncommon, except for implantation bleeding.

Check out this for information: What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Pregnancy?

Suggested for you

The two-week wait is a necessary period after all types of fertility treatments. It is another phase required before finding out whether it has worked or not. If you find yourself in this stage, we recommend that you continue with this reading to get more info: What is the Two-Week Wait (2WW)? – Tips to Survive It.

Also, if you wish to learn more about normal hCG levels during pregnancy and how to calculate the weeks of pregnancy, we recommend that you have a look at this: What Are Normal hCG Hormone Levels during Pregnancy?

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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Karlstrom P-O, Bergh T, Lundkvist O. A prospective randomized trial of artificial insemination versus intercourse in cycles stimulated with human menopausal gonadotropin or clomiphene citrate. Fertil Steril 1993:59;554–9.

Khan JA, Sunde A, Von During V, Sordal T, Molne K. Intrauterine insemination. Ann NY Acad Sci 1991;626:452–60.

Plosker SM, Jacobson W, Amato P. Predicting and optimizing success in an intrauterine insemination programme. Hum Reprod 1994;9:2014–21.

Rubenstein BB, Strauss H, Lazarus ML, Hankin H. Sperm survival in women. Fertil Steril 1951;2:15–9.

Sharif K, Afnan M, Lashen H, Elgend M, Morgan C, Sinclair L. Is bed rest following embryo transfer necessary? Fertil Steril 1998;69:478– 81.

Tomlinson MJ, Amissah-Arthur JB, Thompson KA, Kasraie JL, Bentick B. Prognostic indicators for intrauterine insemination (IUI): statistical model for IUI success. Hum Reprod 1996;11:1892–6.

World Health Organization. Laboratory manual for the examination of human sperm and sperm-cervical mucus interaction. 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992:43–4.

FAQs from users: 'How long does artificial insemination last and how long should I stay in the clinic afterwards?', 'Is bed rest necessary after intrauterine insemination?', 'Is bleeding normal after intrauterine insemination?', 'Does intrauterine insemination hurt?' and 'What are the symptoms of pregnancy after a positive IUI result?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Esther Marbán Bermejo
Esther Marbán Bermejo
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Alcalá University of Madrid. Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynecologist after being a resident doctor at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón of Madrid. Several years of experience as expert OB/GYN in the field of Reproductive Medicine. More information about Esther Marbán Bermejo
License: 282859737
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
B.A., M.A.
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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