Probably more commonly known as artificial insemination, intrauterine insemination is a procedure where sperm are directly transferred into the uterus. An IUI procedure is most often recommended for couples with unexplained infertility, male factor infertility – such as low sperm count or poor sperm motility – or for those using donor sperm.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), sometimes referred to as artificial insemination is a procedure in which sperm are directly transferred into the uterus. Under many circumstances, the ovaries are hormonally stimulated with oral or injectable medications to improve the chance of success. An IUI procedure is most often recommended for couples with unexplained infertility or male factor infertility — such as a low sperm count or poor sperm motility or for those choosing to use donor sperm.
During an IUI procedure, a semen sample is collected and then the sample containing the sperm is washed and prepared for insemination. Sperm preparation is the process in IUI with injectables in which individual are separated from the seminal fluid by mixing it with sterile media and spinning it in a or allowing the motile sperm to swim through the media and collected from another site in the tube. This process during intrauterine artificial insemination helps separate dead or slow moving sperm and leaves sperm that can swim faster and that are more likely to fertilize an egg. A thin flexible catheter is inserted through the cervix and the “washed” sperm is injected into the uterus at the time of ovulation.
The IUI procedure has 3 basic steps:
- Ovulation is tracked and a fertile period is identified (extra steps may be taken if ovulation is not occurring normally)
- Semen is collected and washed
- Sperm is inserted directly into the uterus
The final step is similar in many ways to a pap smear – a speculum is used to expand the vaginal walls, then a thin, flexible catheter is inserted through the cervix and the washed sperm is injected directly into the uterus. The washing process is important both to give the healthiest and most mobile sperm the best chance to reach the egg, and also because inserting semen directly into the uterus can cause cramping and pain.
Success rates for IUI procedures in artificial insemination clinics depend on many factors, including your age and the duration and cause of infertility. Contact your Artificial Insemination Doctors for more information today!