Treatments & Options - IUI - Procedures
Are you considering artificial insemination? Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the most common insemination procedure performed today. The IUI procedure may help you get pregnant and take home a baby, particularly if you are dealing with infertility.
What to expect with IUI
In this section, we review the IUI procedure in detail. Below, we share a quick overview of the IUI process.
- Before you begin, both you and your male partner (or donor) will have a complete physical examination, including blood testing.
- Your doctor will do a sperm analysis by obtaining a sperm sample from your male partner (or the sperm donor). If your partner has ejaculation problems, the doctor can bypass this by extracting sperm. The doctor can then use this sperm during the IUI procedure.
- Your doctor may also recommend that you track your ovulatory cycles by taking a daily basal body temperature (BBT) and/or charting changes to your cervical mucus. Your doctor may also ask you to monitor your ovulation by testing for a luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in your urine. This LH surge will indicate that you are about to ovulate. Once the surge happens, you may choose to do one or two inseminations each cycle.
- While not required, your doctor may prescribe fertility drugs for you to take before the IUI procedure. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may also be administered before the procedure to trigger ovulation. The insertion of your partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) should then be done within 24-36 hours after this injection.
- Before the IUI procedure 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, activates the sperm, increases the ability to fertilize the egg, 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.
- The insemination takes place around the time of ovulation. You will be carefully monitored to make sure your eggs are developing properly and that your uterus is healthy.
- The sperm is injected with a catheter (a tube about the size of a ball point pen refill) through the cervix and into your uterus.
- You may be asked to stay on your back for 10 to 15 minutes. After the insemination, a sponge may be inserted vaginally to keep the sperm inside. This sponge may be kept in place for up to several hours. You may be advised to lie down for 15 to 20 minutes with the sponge inside of you.
To help this process be more relaxing, you may want to bring your partner, or a close friend, or a book – whatever helps you to relax. If you are still unable to get pregnant after several IUI cycles, your doctor may want to do further fertility testing.