I always cringe when I see infertile women who have had more than 4 intrauterine insemination ( IUI ) treatment cycles. This is way too many - and while there maybe no medical downside to doing so many IUI cycles, when patients have done so many IUI cycles, they are usually fed up and frustrated. They have lost confidence in themselves - and their doctor, which means that they are often not willing to consider more effective treatment options, such as IVF.
Medical studies have confirmed that most women who are going to get pregnant after IUI will do so within 3 treatment cycles. If 3 cycles have failed, they have reached the point of diminishing returns, and need to move on with more effective options, such as IVF.
However, why do so many doctors ( and patients) do so many IUI cycles ?
The primary reason is financial. IVF is much more expensive than IVF, so patients often cannot afford to doIVF. While this is a very valid reason , it also does not justify doing the wrong treatment, just because it is cheap. It's better to not do anything at all ! False hope can be very depressing and stressful.
Another reason is that most IUIs are performed by gynecologists, who would rather "hang on" to their patients, rather than refer them to IVF specialists for IVF treatment. This wastes a lot of valuable time and money ( the patient's) .
The final reason is the fact that patients ( and their doctors) often fail to formulate a treatment plan - or to eve think about what to do if the IUI cycle fails. Treatment is always on an ad hoc basis - let's do one more, and see what happens. Not preparing for failure is sometimes the surest way of ensuring you will fail !