What is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from more sluggish or non-moving sperm.The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle.
Is IUI for me?
Your doctor may recommend IUI if:
- there is unexplained infertility
- there are ovulation problems
- the male partner experiences impotence or low sperm count or decreased sperm mobility
- you do not have any known fertility problems but may not have a male partner and are trying for a baby using donated sperm.
- Ejaculation dysfunction
In sum, IUI is a reasonable therapy for some infertility patients, but should be abandoned for IVF by the end of the third IUI cycle.
It is essential that your fallopian tubes are known to be open and healthy before the IUI process begins, because one of the most common causes of infertility is blockage of the fallopian tubes. A tubal patency test is usually carried out as part of your assessment by the fertility clinic. When the pelvis and tubes are healthy, dye passes freely through both tubes. There should be no adhesions present that might prevent an egg from having access to either tube from the ovaries.
The second essential requirement is that there is no significant problem with sperm numbers or sperm quality. If your partner is unable to provide sperm, or if you do not have a male partner, you may want to consider donated sperm.
How does IUI work?
- If you are not using fertility drugs IUI is done between day 12 and day 16 of your monthly cycle – with day one being the first day of your period. You are given blood or urine tests to identify when you are about to ovulate. Many clinics will provide you with an ovulation predictor kit to detect the hormone surge that signals imminent ovulation.
– or –
If you use fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation, vaginal ultrasound scans are used to track the development of your eggs. As soon as an egg is mature, you are given a hormone injection to stimulate its release.
You should consider the best option for you with your doctor.
- The sperm are inserted 36 to 40 hours later. To do this, the doctor first inserts a speculum (a special instrument that keeps your vaginal walls apart) into your vagina.
A small catheter (a soft, flexible tube) is then threaded into your womb via your cervix. The best quality sperm are selected and inserted through the catheter.
The whole process takes just a few minutes and is usually a painless procedure but some women may experience a temporary, menstrual-like cramping.
- You may want to rest for a short time before leaving the clinic – ask your clinic what they recommend.
- You will be asked to produce a sperm sample on the day the treatment takes place.
- The sperm are washed to remove the fluid surrounding them and the rapidly moving sperm separated out.
- The rapidly moving sperm are placed in a small catheter (tube) to be inserted into the womb.