Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is also commonly referred to as artificial insemination. One of the most frequently used treatments for infertility, the procedure involves placing sperm directly inside the uterus through a catheter around the time of ovulation to bypass mucus and other barriers at the uterine entrance and hopefully increase the chances of pregnancy. The procedure allows a greater number of sperm to make it within the vicinity of the egg than typically would through intercourse.
How It Works
Prior to insemination, the sperm is prepared in our lab to increase concentration and activity. After it is transferred to the uterus, the events of fertilization proceed in a natural way, with the sperm still needing to find and fertilize the egg(s) that have been produced. In treatment cycles involving IUI, the ovaries have often been stimulated with medications so that more than one egg is released at ovulation, allowing for multiple chances of successful fertilization.
Sperm preparation takes, on average, about an hour and a half, but the procedure itself takes only minutes. Couples are welcome to leave while the specimen is being prepared and return closer to procedure time. The IUI is relatively painless, although some women may experience mild cramping.
Who Is a Candidate?
Intrauterine insemination is most often used when the sperm count or activity is lower than normal, or when the cause of conception difficulties is undetermined. IUI is commonly used as a first course of treatment, but if multiple attempts are unsuccessful, a couple may meet with their doctor to discuss moving to IVF.