Learn > About Treatment > Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is sometimes known as artificial insemination. With this method, sperm is washed and concentrated and placed at the top of the uterus so more sperm access the egg or eggs to increase chances for fertilization and pregnancy.
IUI is a treatment often used for patients with endometriosis, unexplained infertility, certain milder forms of male infertility, and cervical infertility. We normally do not use IUI for patients with tubal blockage, severe tubal damage, very poor egg quantity and quality, ovarian failure (menopause), and severe male factor infertility.
You should be sure that tubal patency tests are done to check for blockages or pelvis adhesions in the fallopian tubes prior to performing insemination. This is done with an HSG x-ray procedure.
Women over 40, those with reduced ovarian reserve and younger women with elevated 3 FSH levels generally will not benefit from IUI. In most patients with low sperm count, motility or morphology insemination is quite unlikely to be successful. In that situation, IVF with ICSI is recommended due to a much higher success rate.
A Typical IUI Process
- Step One: Patients are usually given medication to produce more than one egg. Insemination is timed to coincide with ovulation.
- Step Two: Ovulation is determined through urinary LH testing (for Clomid) or by ultrasound (for fertility injections).
- Step Three: A semen specimen is produced at home or in our office after 2-5 days of abstinence from ejaculation. The semen is "washed" in a lab process in which the sperm is separated from other semen components and concentrated in a small volume. Various techniques can be for washing and separation. The sperm processing takes about 40-60 minutes.
- Step Four: The separated and washed specimen is placed high in the uterine cavity using a very thin, soft catheter.
- Step Five: You will have to remain in bed for 10 minutes following the procedure to keep the sperm above the level of the vagina so it will not leak out.
- This procedure is similar to a pap smear with little or no discomfort. Some mild uterine cramping may occur.
For more information on IUI please check If At First You Don’t Conceive or consult with your reproductive specialist.