I recently heard a question regarding the timing of intercourse after (or before) an IUI. Since we went straight to IVF, I had never really thought about the need (and apparent benefit) for scheduled relations, but it makes sense that you would want to try to ensure that you take advantage of ovulation. It seems that the most common recommendation is to have sex shortly after the procedure to both try to make sure you have correct timing and to “save” the “better” sperm for the IUI rather than not following the guidelines to refrain from ejaculation for 48 hours.
In fact, some clinics actually do try to use this logic by scheduling two consecutive IUI procedures. Doing the procedure twice in a cycle has shown a slight increase in success rates in some studies. When only one procedure is being done the “instructions” regarding intercourse vary greatly. In general, though the male should have ejaculated within 72 hours and ideally will not have done so within a minimum of 24 hours but more commonly 48 hours before the procedure. If there are two IUI procedures scheuled they are typically at least 12 hours apart and within 48 hours of the hcg shot.
Admittedly, all of that can get a little confusing and you of course want to do things in a way that will hopefully produce the best results. So, when should you have sex before and/or after an IUI procedure? As usual, my first suggestion is to listen to your doctor and do what s/he says. They are the ones that know your issues and history intimately and the instructions to you are undoubtedly what is best for you. If, though, like many women your doctor doesn’t really give clear indications there is a general protocol that many women follow.
It goes without saying (I hope) that even more so if you struggle with severe male factor, are using donor sperm, or other similar reasons that would preclude you from having any benefit from intercourse surrounding IUI, that you should follow your doctor’s advice – not what other women are doing. Many IUI patients are told to have sex three days prior to the procedure- probably because of the 72 hour suggestion to ejaculate, and it might as well be with the partner who is trying to conceive. They are then told to have intercourse the night of the IUI procedure and as many times as possible in the three days afterward. Sounds like just more scheduled sex to me, but it also seems that there definitely could be a benefit or at least it won’t hurt! Unlike those who finally conceive through IVF or who know without a doubt that they cannot get pregnant through intercourse, those who have sex before and after an IUI will never know if the child was conceived at the doctor’s office or in whatever place relations happened. Can you tell that I always wanted to name my child after the place of conception – for me, somehow Fertility Clinic doesn’t have as good of a ring to it!