IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)

What is intrauterine insemination (IUI) and how does it work?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from slower 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?

IUI may be beneficial if:

  • you have unexplained infertility
  • you have ovulation problems
  • there are minor sperm parameter problems
  • you do not have any known fertility problems but may not have a male partner and are trying for a baby using donated sperm.

What do I need to be able to undergo IUI?

It is essential that your fallopian tubes are known to be open (patent) and healthy before the IUI process begins. A tubal patency test is recommended as part of your assessment for IUI at CRGW.

The typical method for assessing the health of your pelvis and the patency of your fallopian tubes is a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a HyCosy or laparoscopy and dye testing. When the pelvis and tubes are healthy, fluid used in these tests passes freely through both tubes.
The test may show that you only have one open healthy tube although you may have both ovaries. IUI treatment can then only be carried out when there is evidence that ovulation is about to occur from the ovary that is on the same side as the open tube.

The second essential requirement is that there is no significant problem with sperm numbers or sperm quality.

IUI options

If we recommend IUI treatment, you may want to discuss the following options:

IUI with or without fertility drugs – as IUI can be given with or without fertility drugs to boost egg production, you should discuss the risks involved in using fertility drugs and whether IUI without fertility drugs might be suitable for you.

IUI with partner’s sperm or donor sperm – instead of using your partner’s sperm, if your partner is unable to provide sperm, or if you do not have a male partner, you may want to consider using donated sperm.

If IUI is unsuccessful – we may discuss other procedures such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with you.

How does IUI work?

For women:

Step 1. 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. We 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(s) is mature, you are given a hormone injection to stimulate its release.

Step 2. The sperm are placed into your uterus 36 to 40 hours later. To do this, we first insert a speculum (a special instrument that keeps your vaginal walls apart) into your vagina (as for a cervical smear test). A small catheter (a soft, flexible tube) is then threaded into your womb via your cervix. The best quality sperm are 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 wish to rest for a short time before going home.

For men:

Step 1. You will be asked to produce a sperm sample on the day the treatment takes place (sperm can be frozen ahead of treatment if a fresh sample may not be able to be produced on the day of treatment)

Step 2. The sperm are washed to remove the fluid surrounding them and the rapidly moving sperm separated out.

Step 3. The rapidly moving sperm are placed in a small catheter (tube) to be inserted into the uterus.