What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine Insemination is a basic type of artificial insemination, that has helped thousands of patients struggling to conceive. It is often the initial fertility treatment, but is associated with lower pregnancy rates than in vitro fertilization (IVF). The maternal age of the woman and the sperm count impact IUI pregnancy rates.

IUI is a fertility procedure where sperm from a partner or donor is inserted into the uterus of the female through a thin catheter or tube. Once in the uterus, the sperm must navigate into the fallopian tube to fertilize the egg. IUI is similar to natural fertilization that occurs through intercourse. This is in marked contrast to in vitro fertilization where the eggs are removed from the woman and fertilized in the laboratory.

Fertility Evaluation

Your fertility expert at Virginia Fertility Associates will conduct a fertility workup on both partners to determine the most appropriate treatment that provides the best chance of conception. This includes a complete medical history and physical exam.

Women will be examined to check health status and assess hormone levels to be sure they are in the normal range. Women receive a pelvic exam to ensure the uterus is normal and will support a pregnancy and to confirm that she has open fallopian tubes.

Men undergo a physical and medical history. As part of a fertility workup, a semen analysis is conducted to determine whether there exists any male factor infertility that may have contributed to the couple’s inability to conceive.

Your doctor will discuss the details of the procedure with you. Women with ovulation disorders may be candidates for IUI if they respond to fertility medications. In this case, ovulation-stimulating hormones are given early in the woman’s menstrual cycle to determine whether she responds to these drugs. If so, she can proceed to IUI. Often IUI includes the use of fertility medications to increase the chances of pregnancy. Your fertility expert will discuss this option with you.

Women with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes are not candidates for IUI.

Prior to the Procedure

Semen aAnalysis: A sperm sample is obtained from the male partner or a donor. The sperm is evaluated to determine sperm count, and the motility, shape and size of the sperm.  If the sperm meet specific standards, it indicates that IUI is a good option. If so, the sperm is washed to remove any chemicals that could create adverse reactions. Then the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid which enhances the chance of fertilization. 

The Procedure

The washed, fast-moving sperm are injected directly into the woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation.

Indications for Use

  • When there is a documented problem with the sperm such that it is believed the sperm will not be able to reach the egg. This procedure is most successful when there are mild abnormalities of the sperm. Quality can be enhanced by processing of the sperm in the lab. It is washed, concentrated and placed in a specialized culture.
  • When there is an abnormal sperm/cervical mucus interaction and the sperm is unable to penetrate the cervical mucus.
  • When the male is unable to achieve erection or orgasm.
  • IUI is also indicated where there is unexplained infertility.

Who is a candidate for IUI?

  • Women who desire to give birth to their own child and are in a heterosexual relationship where their partner suffers with male factor fertility such as erectile dysfunction, low sperm count or low sperm mobility, abnormal sperm size and shape.
  • Single women who choose donor sperm.
  • Lesbian women on the sperm-donation program.
  • Women with endometriosis-related infertility, ovulation-inducing medications are used.
  • Women who have a semen allergy.
  • Women with cervical abnormalities, or thick cervical mucus.
  • Women who have ovulation problems that are not related to pelvic structure.
  • Women whose male partner has mild fertility issues such as low sperm count, low sperm motility, or abnormal sperm size and shape.
  • Women whose male partner has erectile dysfunction or has premature ejaculation.
  • Couples with unspecified infertility who have been trying to have a baby for at least a year.

At Virginia Fertility Associates in Richmond, VA, our goal is to provide personalized, compassionate, quality care throughout your journey to parenthood.  We provide patient centered-care, guard your privacy, and respond to your concerns. Ask us how we define success!