Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a treatment for fertility, performed in couples unable to conceive, and used for women requiring donor sperm. IUI involves placing sperm inside a women’s uterus to facilitate fertilisation (fusion of egg and sperm). IUI gives the sperm a head start in entering the womb, but will still have to reach and fertilise the egg on its own.
IUI is a fertility treatment indicated for couples with conditions such as unexplained infertility, abnormal sperm count or mobility, cervical problems and ejaculation dysfunction.
Preparing for the procedure
Semen is collected from your partner at the clinic. The sperm sample is washed (prepared in a sperm laboratory) to select only the best sperm that look normal and highly active, from the low quality sperm. There is a better chance of conception if a highly concentrated sample of healthy sperm is used. You will be monitored for signs of ovulation (release of an egg). Your Fertility Specialist may also prescribe medication to stimulate the ovaries and improve egg production and chances of pregnancy. IUIs are usually performed a day after ovulation is identified. Ovulation may be triggered with a hormonal trigger if needed.
During the procedure you will lie on an exam table. A hormone called human gonadotropin hormone is injected to release the eggs. Your doctor injects the sample of semen directly into the uterus through a catheter (long tube). After the procedure, you can get up and resume your normal activities. This entire procedure may cause minimal discomfort and is completed in a short time.
Risks and complications
IUI is relatively safe and is not associated with serious complications. Occasionally some spotting / bleeding is noticed, but this does not affect the success of the procedure. IUI by itself may not be associated with a risk of multiple pregnancies, but when coupled with ovulation inducing medication, you are at a higher risk of multiple pregnancies.