Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), sometimes referred to as Artificial insemination (AI), is an infertility treatment that may be one of the options considered before attempting complex treatments, such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IUI is a relatively simple procedure that involves injecting the husband’s laboratory-prepared sperm directly into the wife’s uterus. This aims to increase the number of sperm that reach the egg in order to enhance the chances of fertilization. 

IUI is performed in conjunction with ultrasound to track follicular development to estimate the likely day of ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary) and usually an injection of HCG is given to help time the release of the egg with the IUI.

Intrauterine-Insemination-(IUI) Procedure

When should I consider IUI?

IUI is a simple relatively inexpensive treatment but the success rate is not as high as more complex procedures like IVF. It may be a fertility treatment to consider if you and your partner are unable to get pregnant due to the following reasons: 

Male infertility

If your partner’s semen shows mild abnormalities like a slightly reduced concentration of sperm, weak sperm movement or abnormalities in size and shape of sperm, IUI can be a useful first line treatment especially in the younger couples. In IUI we attempt to overcome these sperm problems by selecting the highly motile sperm and injecting them in the uterus, close to the fallopian tube, thereby reducing the distance that they need to travel to meet the egg, this is timed with ovulation hence increasing the chances of fertilization.

Endometriosis-related fertility

For women going through infertility due to endometriosis, combining IUI with medications and injections to induce development of multiple eggs is often used as a first line treatment approach especially in younger couples. 

Male infertility

When accessing infertility, one of the procedures we take include semen analysis. If your partner’s semen show below average concentration, weak movement or abnormalities in size and shape, IUI can overcome these problems by separating the highly motile sperm from lower quality sperm.

Cervix-related infertility

Ovulation is the best time for achieving pregnancy as mucus produced by the cervix during this period provides an ideal environment for sperm to travel from the vagina to the fallopian tubes. However, some women have cervical mucus that is too thick, which may trap the sperm and prevent them from reaching the egg. With IUI, we bypass the cervix and deposit sperm directly into the uterus.

Ovulation-related infertility

IUI can be performed for women who do not ovulate or have a reduced number of eggs if just ovulation induction is not successful. 

Donor sperm

IUI is commonly used for women who require donor sperm to get pregnant. At ACRM, we have our own in-house lab where frozen donor sperm specimens can be thawed before the IUI procedure.

Talk to us today!

Senior Consultant Fertility Specialist

Consultant Ob-Gyn

(O&G)

What is the IUI process? 

Step 1: Ovulation monitoring

In IUI, timing is everything — so keeping track of ovulation is imperative. To monitor ovulation, we use a transvaginal ultrasound usually from cycle day 10-12 to visualize your ovaries and track the growth of the follicles (bubbles containing the egg). These scans are done every 2-3 days to help us assess the follicular maturity.  

Some women will need oral medications from cycle day 2-6 or daily injections to stimulate the production of eggs. 

Step 2: Semen preparation

For IUI we need the male partner to produce a semen sample around 2 hours prior to the scheduled IUI – this can be done in the privacy of your home or in the dedicated semen collection room at our clinic. The sample is then processed to enable us to choose the highly active, normal sperm. In the event that donor sperm is used, a vial of frozen donor sperm is thawed and prepared. 

Step 3: Insemination

On the day of the IUI patients are advised to come with a full bladder. 

A transvaginal scan is performed to assess the status of ovulation first. A speculum is then inserted in the vagina and the IUI procedure is carried out. The prepared  semen sample is  placed into a catheter and inserted into your uterus through your vagina and cervix. The whole process is painless and you can resume normal activity immediately after.  

Step 4: Test for pregnancy

A pregnancy test is done about 2 weeks after the IUI procedure to determine if the treatment is successful.

Intrauterine-Insemination-(IUI) graphic

What is the difference between IVF and IUI?

 

IUIIVF
Fertilisation process

Sperm is transferred into the woman’s body to meet egg for fertilisation and form an embryo

Eggs are extracted from the woman’s body and fertilized with the sperm in the lab

Egg retrievalNoYes
Sperm retrievalYesYes
AnaesthesiaNoYes

Is IUI painful?

IUI is a minimally invasive procedure that takes about 10-15 minutes. Many women liken the feeling to undergoing a pap smear. There is no downtime involved.

What is the success rate for IUI? 

IU is the simplest assisted reproductive technique and has a modest success rate of 10-15%. If IUI is done together with fertility medications and injections, the success rate is about 15-20%. IUI is a good option for young couples trying fertility treatment for the first time.

What are the side effects of IUI? 

IUI is a relatively simple and safe procedure and chances of side effects are rare. But in the event side effects do occur, they include:

Infection

There may be a slight risk of developing a pelvic infection from the procedure. 

Spotting

Some spotting may occur after the IUI procedure, but this is normal. 

Multiple pregnancy

When used with ovulation-inducing medications and injections, the risk of a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets) is 5-15%. 

Talk to us today!

Senior Consultant Fertility Specialist

Consultant Ob-Gyn

(O&G)