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Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) & How It Works

shutterstock_239578030Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an infertility treatment in which sperm are placed into your uterine cavity through a catheter. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of artificial insemination in which sperm are injected directly into your uterine cavity near the time you ovulate. Your doctor may recommend IUI to treat many causes of infertility, especially when there is a problem with the sperm such as low sperm count or low motility (when sperm do not move well). IUI bypasses the cervix, so it is a useful treatment if there is an incompatibility between sperm and the cervical mucus. IUI is also an option when the man is unable to ejaculate inside the woman’s vagina (because of impotence, premature ejaculation, or other medical conditions). This procedure can be performed with either your partners sperm or with sperm from a donor.

How is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) performed?

Your partner will be asked to provide a semen sample about an hour or two before you are scheduled for insemination. This is done by masturbating into a sterile container at the doctor’s office. The semen is “washed” to separate the sperm from the seminal fluid. this must be done before the sperm can be injected into your uterus because the seminal fluid contains substances that can irritate your uterus. Sperm “washing” may also improve the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg.

The insemination takes only a few minutes. You doctor will place a speculum inside your vagina, insert a small catheter through your cervix into your uterine cavity, and inject the sperm through the catheter into your uterus. You most likely will not feel discomfort during the procedure.

Common Questions & Answers:

How can IUI help to improve my chances for pregnancy?

The sperm are placed inside your uterus, so they are closer to the site of fertilization. IUI bypasses many problems that take place in the vagina or cervix, such as an incompatibility between sperm and the cervical mucus. IUI also improves delivery of the sperm to the egg, especially when the sperm count is low or the sperm do not move well.

I heard that we may need to go through this procedure more than once. Is that true?

If you do not become pregnant, you may have to repeat the procedure over your next few cycles. Further evaluation may be needed if  you do not become pregnant after several cycles.

Is there anything we need to do to prepare for this procedure?

You should abstain from sex for 2 or 3 days before the procedure. If you are not ovulating regularly, your doctor may prescribe medication to induce ovulation. Check with your doctor to see if there are any other recommendations specific to your care.

How soon will we know if this treatment was successful?

You will probably know in about 2 weeks – if you become pregnant, you will most likely miss your next period. A blood test will confirm whether or not you are pregnant.