Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Overview: What You Should Know

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

If you’re considering intrauterine insemination (IUI), it’s important to learn all you can about this fertility treatment.

IUI process
The IUI process includes the following five steps:

  1. Semen analysis
  2. Monitoring of female ovulation
  3. Obtaining the sperm sample
  4. Washing and preparing the sperm sample
  5. Injection of the prepared sample into the uterus

IUI success rates
Intrauterine insemination has fairly good success rates. With IUI, the chance of conceiving is especially improved if you or your partner have:

  • Unexplained infertility
  • Low sperm count or other male factor infertility problems
  • Female cervical mucus problems

For women over 35, IUI is helpful to get pregnant, especially when combined with ovulation-boosting fertility drugs. Intrauterine insemination also helps men that have undergone varicocele treatment.

Fertility pills and IUI
If you choose to take fertility medication with IUI, your doctor will monitor you closely during your IUI cycle. You have several options to choose from when taking fertility drugs with IUI.

  • One medication, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), may be injected to stimulate ovulation for IUI. HCG helps the eggs mature so they will be released at the right time. Intrauterine insemination will take place about 24-48 hours later.  
  • Another commonly-used fertility drug used is gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which is used to reduce the chances of premature ovulation, which can negatively affect IUI.
  • Some women take clomiphene citrate (Clomid) with IUI. This drug stimulates ovulation, boosting the success rates of IUI.

Sperm preparation for IUI
Before IUI is performed, sperm have to be removed from the seminal fluid and concentrated down. This process of sperm preparation is called “washing.” Sperm washing removes prostaglandins and other chemicals and also activates the sperm, which increases the ability to fertilize the egg.

Washing the sperm also prepares the sample for injection and helps to minimize cramping that may occur after IUI. The washing also concentrates the sperm into a high volume, which will boost your chances of pregnancy.

IUI and retrograde ejaculation
Some infertile men have a problem with retrograde or backwards ejaculation. With this problem, semen flows into the bladder during ejaculation, rather than out through the penis.

If this happens to your partner, your doctor may be able to extract sperm from his bladder to obtain the sperm sample. Later that sperm can be used during intrauterine insemination.

While IUI is a simple treatment, it can have a major significance in helping you to conceive. Talk to your doctor today to see if you are a good candidate for intrauterine insemination.

Ask a doctor in your area about IUI

Sources
  • American Fertility Association: Gay Man, Gay Dad: Gay Men Can Become Fathers
  • American Pregnancy Association: Intrauterine Insemination: IUI
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Infertility: An Overview: A Guide for Patients. 
    Report on Varicocele and Infertility. 
    Medications for Inducing Ovulation: A Guide for Patients. T
    hird Party Reproduction: A Guide for Patients
  • American Urological Association Foundation: Management of Male Infertility
  • Dr. Scott Roseff (From International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc): Overview of Fertility Medications
  • RESOLVE: Intrauterine Insemination. Medical Aspects of Donor Insemination