IUI – Artificial Insemination

IUI (Intra-uterine insemination) or artificial insemination is often the first type of fertility treatment attempted by couples. It involves collecting and processing semen then placing it directly into the woman’s vagina, cervical canal, or uterine cavity. The husband or male partner (AIH) or from a donor (AID) may provide the sperm. Artificial insemination or IUI could be recommended where either male or female factors are involved in infertility.

In order to get sperm ready for the IUI procedure, it must first be washed. Sperm washing may sound strange, but it ensures that only the healthiest sperm are used during the procedure. Sperm washing can increase your chances of conception.

Intra-uterine insemination may also be recommended for any of the following conditions:

  • A low sperm count (but no less than 10 million/ml)
  • While going through a Clomid cycle (Clomid/IUI)
  • When being treated with injectable fertility drugs (hMG or FSH/IUI)
  • Bad sperm motility
  • A sperm morphology >/=8%
  • Donor sperm is required
  • A hostile cervix condition, such as cervical mucus that is too thick
  • The couple has been diagnosed with a sexual dysfunction

The IUI process

A very thin flexible catheter is inserted through the cervix and washed sperm is injected into the uterus. Most women consider IUI to be fairly painless, along the same lines as having a pap smear. The catheter isn’t felt because the cervix is already slightly open for ovulation. There can be some cramping afterward, which is related to ovulation rather than from the IUI process.

Instructions will be given as to how long beforehand and afterwards you need to abstain from intercourse, as well as resting periods after the procedure.

When Should it be Done?

Ideally an IUI should be performed within 6 hours either side of ovulation with the sperm waiting for the egg. For male factor infertility, some doctors believe after ovulation is better. When timing is based on an hCG injection, the IUIs are usually done between 24 and 48 hours later. Typical timing would be to have a single IUI at about 36 hours post-hCG.

Who is Suited to IUI?

IUI can help on Clomid cycles where cervical mucus is a problem. IUI or artificial insemination increases the chance of success on injectible cycles no matter what the sperm count. It does make sense to try IUI if you haven’t had success with intercourse.