Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that is used to treat infertility. It is effective in treating infertility with a variety of causes. It is the most common type of artificial insemination. In IUI, processed sperm is injected directly into a woman’s uterus in hopes of fertilizing an egg.
About the Procedure
Intrauterine insemination requires working ovaries, viable eggs, and 5-10 million motile sperm to be successful. Depending on the cause of infertility, IUI treatment may include ovulation induction to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs during a cycle.
Semen Collection & Preparation
The male partner provides a semen sample at the clinic. The semen is taken to the lab to be washed to separate the normal sperm that are highly active from sperm with abnormal shapes and low motility. Using a small, highly concentrated sample of healthy sperm increases the chances of achieving pregnancy.
Before the insemination procedure, the woman’s ovulation will be carefully monitored by measuring certain hormones. This can be done by a fertility specialist using ultrasound or at home using an at-home urine ovulation predictor kit.
During this period, the woman may need to take medications to stimulate the ovaries to ovulate more than one egg during a cycle. Then, an injection may be given to trigger ovulation. When hormone levels indicate that ovulation is occurring, the insemination procedure is scheduled.
Once a fertility specialist determines the correct timing, the insemination procedure is scheduled and performed in the fertility clinic. The procedure only takes a few minutes and does not require medications or pain relievers. During the procedure, a catheter attached is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. The doctor injects the previously prepared healthy sperm through the tube into the uterus.
Two weeks after the insemination procedure, a pregnancy test is performed to see if the procedure resulted in pregnancy.
Why IUI Is Performed
Intrauterine insemination is often the first approach to treating infertility caused by a variety of factors.
- Unexplained infertility: Intrauterine insemination is often the first treatment recommended in cases of unexplained infertility.
- Endometriosis-related infertility: IUI is often the first treatment used to treat infertility related to endometriosis. The procedure uses medications that can help specialists obtain a good-quality egg.
- Cervical factor infertility: If the cervix is scarred or has other structural issues, this can lead to problems with fertility. If cervical mucus is too thick, this can also keep sperm from passing through the cervix. IUI is an effective treatment because the sperm is placed directly in the uterus without having to pass through the cervix.
- Mild male factor infertility: The male partner may have low sperm contraction, weak motility, or sperm with abnormal size and shape. IUI utilizes procedures that separate the healthiest sperm from those of lower quality.
- Ovulation-related infertility: If ovulation issues are the cause of infertility, IUI can be performed along with the use of ovulation-inducing medications.
The expert providers at West Virginia Fertility Institute specialize in a variety of treatments for infertility, including intrauterine insemination. We combine personalized care with cutting edge technology to help our patients build their families. Call our office at (304) 345-9292 to schedule a consult.