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.
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 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.
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.