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Intrauterine Insemination

Everything you need to know about intrauterine insemination (IUI) and how we optimize your chances for success at Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.

Overcoming Ovulation Problems Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a frequent cause of irregular ovulation or anovulation, which can cause infertility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant: read on for the ways we can help you conceive, even in the face of ovulation problems.

Artificial insemination for infertility, intrauterine insemination - IUI

The Science (and Art) of IUIs

Intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination, can be a great option for couples who are struggling with infertility, and it’s also a means of fertilization with donor sperm.

Depending on your diagnosis, we may recommend several IUI attempts before jumping into IVF.

Defining IUI
In simplest terms, IUI is a procedure that places sperm directly inside your uterus, with the goal of getting healthy sperm closer to an egg. It’s short, painless, and can be done at our clinic.

IUI Candidates
IUI may be an option for mild cases of male factor infertility, as well as for women who are experiencing:

  • Tubal blockage or damage
  • Ovarian failure
  • Ovulation problems (PCOS)
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Cervical factor infertility

Individuals or couples using donor sperm may undergo IUI. Donor sperm is a good option when a male partner isn’t present, or where male factor infertility is preventing pregnancy. At AFCC, we partner with fully licensed, highly accredited sperm banks, whose screening steps meet well-established standards. Donors are heavily screened for medical conditions and other physical, emotional and psychological risk factors.

The Process

The woman is given medications to stimulate development of multiple eggs at the beginning of her cycle.
Semen Sample​
A semen specimen is produced at home or in the clinic after 2-5 days of abstinence from ejaculation.
Sperm Washing
The semen is “washed” in the laboratory (called sperm processing or sperm washing). The sperm is separated from the other components of the semen and concentrated in a small volume.
On the day of the procedure, when ovulation is imminent, a speculum is placed in the vagina and the cervical area is gently cleaned. The washed specimen of highly motile sperm is placed either in the uterus using a sterile, flexible catheter. There should be little or no discomfort.
Most clinics offer for the woman to remain lying down for a few minutes after the procedure — although the sperm has been put above the vagina and cervix, so it shouldn’t leak out when you stand up.

IUI is performed by placing specially prepared semen directly into the patient’s uterus using a speculum and catheter so that the sperm can complete the rest of its journey towards the egg. In IUI, fertilization and blastocyst development occur within the body, similar to a traditional pregnancy. In IVF, fertilization takes place outside of the body in a laboratory; eggs and sperm are retrieved from the parents and/or donors and combined together so that the sperm can fertilize the egg, forming a blastocyst embryo. After a few days of development, the resulting blastocyst is transferred to the recipient’s uterus.

IUI procedures are scheduled to be performed during the ovulation phase of a menstrual cycle. As such, it takes about two weeks before a pregnancy test will accurately reveal whether or not the procedure was successful. During this time, it’s recommended that patients not use at-home pregnancy tests, as they can sometimes yield misleading results.

In some cases, patients who are undergoing IUI may also be prescribed medications to increase their fertility, also known as ovarian stimulation. These medications include:

  • Clomid (clomiphene citrate), an oral medication that triggers the pituitary gland to produce more reproductive hormones
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a self-administered injection that stimulates the ovaries, causing them to produce an increased number of egg-containing follicles
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a self-administered injection that acts as a trigger to start an ovulation cycle

The IUI procedure is relatively quick and minimally invasive. In terms of discomfort, it is often compared to a standard Pap smear. The entire procedure takes approximately two minutes to complete.


We are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have so that you feel completely confident when taking the first step toward building your family.

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