Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that involves placing sperminside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. This fertilitytreatment does not involve the manipulation of a woman’s eggs, andtherefore is not considered an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure.
What is IUI?
IUI is a fertility treatment that uses a catheter to place a numberof washed sperm directly into the uterus. The goal of IUI is to increasethe number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequentlyincrease the chance of fertilization.
When is IUI used?
IUI is a fertility treatment often selected by couples who have been tryingto conceive for at least one year with no success. IUI may be selected asa fertility treatment with any of the following conditions:
- Unexplained infertility
- Low sperm count
- Decreased sperm mobility
- Requirement of donor sperm
- A hostile cervical condition, such as cervicalmucus that is too thick
- Cervical scar tissue from past procedures or endometriosis
- Ejaculation dysfunction
IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start, but stillrequires a sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own.
How does IUI work?
The IUI procedure is simple and may be performed even if the woman is notreceiving medication to improve her egg production. Many physicians willencourage women to take medications to stimulate the ovaries to increaseegg production in order to improve the chance of achieving pregnancy.
An ultrasound will be used to monitor the size of the follicles (folliclesdevelop into eggs). The hormone, human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), isadministered to stimulate the release of eggs from the follicles.
A semen sample will be washed by the lab to separate the semen from theseminal fluid. A catheter is used to inject the processed sperm directlyinto the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that areplaced in the uterus, thus increasing the possibility of conception. TheIUI procedure takes little time and involves minimal discomfort. The nextstep is to watch for signsand symptoms of pregnancy.
How successful is IUI?
Women under the age of 35 usually have higher rates of success than womenover age 35, but the average success rate for IUI ranges from 10-20% inone cycle. With IUI, as with other methods of artificial insemination, thesuccess rate depends primarily on the health of both the sperm and the woman.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, http://www.resolve.org
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), http://www.asrm.org