Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an infertility treatment that is often called artificial insemination. In this procedure, specially prepared sperm are inserted into the woman's uterus. Sometimes the woman is also treated with medicines that stimulate ovulation before IUI. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start, but still requires a sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. It is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to in vitro fertilization.
IUI is often used to treat:
- Mild male factor infertility.
- Couples with unexplained infertility.
- Low sperm count or decreased sperm mobility.
- A hostile cervical condition, including cervical mucus problems
- Cervical scar tissue from past procedures which may hinder the sperms’ ability to enter the uterus
- Ejaculation dysfunction
Before intrauterine insemination, ovulation stimulating medications may be used, in which case careful monitoring will be necessary to determine when the eggs are mature. The IUI procedure will then be performed around the time of ovulation, typically about 24-36 hours after the surge in LH hormone that indicates ovulation will occur soon.
A semen sample will be washed by the lab to separate the semen from the seminal fluid. A catheter will then be used to insert the sperm directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus, thus increasing the possibility of conception.
The IUI procedure takes only a few minutes and involves minimal discomfort. The next step is to watch for signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
The chances of becoming pregnant with multiples is increased if you take fertility medication when having IUI. There is also a small risk of infection after IUI.