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Intrauterine Insemination, IUI

Intrauterine Insemination, IUI is a fertility treatment option for couples facing low sperm counts or unexplained infertility

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure where sperm is placed directly inside the woman’s uterus, increasing her chances of becoming pregnant. IUI may be recommended in cases of unexplained infertility or in cases where the sperm count is low. It is typically combined with medication to stimulate the ovaries (i.e. Clomid or gonadotropins), though it may also be used on its own in some cases of male factor infertility.

Collecting a semen sample is the first step in intrauterine insemination

The male partner will be instructed to obtain a semen sample by masturbation and ejaculation into a sterile container. The man should avoid ejaculating for two to five days before collecting the sample. The semen is then prepared in the laboratory to separate the active sperm from the inactive sperm and seminal fluid. The process is similar if donor sperm is used.

Some patients may not be able to collect sperm using this technique for religious or other reasons. An alternative is to use a special condom during intercourse to collect the sperm. If this is something you are interested in, please discuss this with your nurse or doctor.

What to expect at your intrauterine insemination

The timing of IUI depends on whether an ovulation kit is being used or if an Ovidrel injection is required. Most treatments only require 1 IUI, but patients using gonadotropins at the Texas Fertility Center will have 2 IUIs.

During an IUI, the woman lies on her back on an examination table and rests her feet in the supports. A speculum is inserted in the vagina and a long, thin, flexible tube is used to insert the prepared sperm sample through the vagina and cervix inside the uterus. This typically takes two to three minutes.

The woman may feel some cramping during the procedure, although this usually resolves quickly. After the sperm sample is inserted and the tube is removed, we ask the woman to lie still for approximately 10 minutes. The woman may then resume her normal activities, including returning to work.

Serious complications of IUI are very rare. Common reactions include pelvic cramping, light bleeding, and vaginal discharge. If these problems are persistent or become severe, please call your nurse.

The chance for pregnancy following IUI depends on the type of treatment that a patient is undergoing. For example, in an unmedicated cycle, IUI produces pregnancy rates of approximately 6-10%. Clomid/IUI cycles typically produce pregnancy rates of 8-12% per cycle, while gonadotropin/IUI cycles have pregnancy rates of 15-25% per cycle.