Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Definition - What does Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) mean?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of artificial insemination where sperm is injected sperm directly into a woman’s uterus, increasing the chance of live sperm coming into contact with a live egg. An infertile couple, single parent, or same-sex couple may opt to use this procedure.

FertilitySmarts explains Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI may be preferable in a variety of infertility-inducing circumstances or where intercourse is not an option. While IUI gives sperm a head start in reaching and fertilizing the egg. It is a less invasive and less expensive treatment then other assisted reproductive treatments, such as in vitro fertilization. IUI is most commonly used as a result of the following conditions:

  • Unexplained infertility
  • Low sperm count
  • Poor sperm motility
  • Cervical conditions, including hostile cervix, cervical scar tissue, or cervical mucus issues
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • The need for donor sperm, i.e. single female patient or same-sex couple

Prior to the IUI procedure, several steps occur. Initially, the woman’s natural menstrual cycle is tracked. If ovulation is consistent and normal, her natural ovulation may be used. If not, ovulation induction (OI) medications may be required.

Once ovulation has been naturally or medically inducted, a sperm sample is collected through masturbation or extraction. The sample then undergoes a process called sperm washing. Sperm washing is the removal of tissues, semen, abnormal sperm, and ejaculate fluid, reserving just the normal, healthy sperm. This allows for inclusion of only the strongest sperm, most likely capable of contributing to conception. The use of a sperm donor is also an option.

IUI is conducted by inserting a catheter, a small tube, through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. The washed sperm are then deposited directly into the uterus. The procedure is minor and involves very little pain or discomfort. It typically takes several minutes to complete, and the woman is able to leave immediately after. The woman or couple should begin monitoring for signs of pregnancy within the following weeks.

The IUI procedure is relatively risk-free. There is a small chance of infection following an IUI. Additionally, if IUI is taken in conjunction with fertility mediation there is an increased risk of multiple pregnancies.

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