IUI (intrauterine insemination) is a simple procedure in which a carefully prepped sperm collection is placed in the uterus when the patient is most fertile. The sperm is processed in our andrology lab, the most motile sperm is isolated and washed, and the sample is gently placed through the cervix with a thin catheter (tube) into the uterus.
IUI increases the chances of pregnancy by optimizing the sperm sample and placing sperm closer to the egg (past the cervix) during the fertile time in the cycle.
IUI is often recommended for women or couples who:
- Have mild male factor infertility, low sperm counts or poor sperm parameters
- Have unexplained infertility as a first line fertility treatment
- Are using donor sperm
- Have been unsuccessful with other fertility treatments
- Have difficulty with intercourse (sexual dysfunction)
- Have difficulty timing intercourse due to travel IUI with Fertility Medication
IUI may be performed during a woman’s natural cycle or in conjunction with ovarian stimulation medication. Studies have demonstrated that combining fertility medication with IUI may increase the chances of success with IUI. These medications include pills such as Clomid®, (clomiphene citrate) or Femara® (letrozole) or injectable medications such as Gonadotropins (for example: Follistim®, Gonal F®, Bravelle®).
Timing of the IUI
The IUI is performed close to ovulation. This timing may be detected at home with ovulation predictor kits or fertility monitors or with close monitoring in the clinic with ultrasound and/or hormone testing. The best method for each patient is determined with their Pacific NW Fertility provider.
What to expect from the IUI procedure
The IUI procedure takes 5-10 minutes and is most similar to a gynecology exam. A speculum is placed in order to view the cervix and a soft catheter (tube) is passed through the cervix into the uterine cavity. The sperm sample carefully prepared by our experienced andrology team is then gently placed through the catheter into the uterine cavity.
In rare cases, there may be mild cramping following the procedure, but this is normally mild and short-lived. Our patients can resume normal activity immediately.
How successful is IUI and how many should someone do?
The success of IUI depends on the patient and/or couple doing the procedure. The success rate is approximately 20% each cycle but declines with age of female partner, diminished ovarian reserve, and poor sperm parameters.
Studies indicate that the possibility of conception with IUI is highest in the first three to four months. If not successful after 3-4 attempts, patients will usually discuss the option of more aggressive treatments such as in vitro fertilization with their Pacific NW Fertility provider.
I would encourage my friend to seek professional help as early as possible. Both seeing a medical team that specializes in fertility treatment as well as someone to support their emotional health. I would advise them to consider all options. Loving a child regardless of how they came to you is such an incredible gift. I would encourage my friend to not give up no matter how hard the process becomes.