What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which a fine catheter (tube) is inserted through the cervix (the natural opening of the uterus) into the uterus (the womb) to deposit a sperm sample directly into the uterus. The purpose of intrauterine insemination (IUI) is to achieve fertilization and pregnancy.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is intended to give sperm better access to the egg following ovulation. It is often recommended when a male factor is identified as a cause of infertility. If ovulation problems are also a factor for the couple, or if the couple has unexplained infertility, IUI may be combined with ovulation induction to achieve pregnancy. Sperm from a donor is often used when infertility is caused by a male factor such as azoospermia, a complete lack of sperm in ejaculated semen, or when sperm abnormalities are severe, making pregnancy unlikely.
The IUI procedure is simple and may be performed even if the woman is not receiving medication to improve her egg production. Many physicians will encourage women to take make mediations to stimulate the ovaries in order to increase egg production and hopefully the chance of achieving pregnancy.
An ultrasound will be used to monitor the size of the follicles (follicles develop into eggs). The hormone, human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), is given to stimulate the release of eggs from the follicles within 34-40 hours.
A semen sample will be processed by the lab in order to separate the semen from the seminal fluid. A catheter is used to inject the processed sperm directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus and thus increases the possibility of conception. The IUI procedure is short and involves minimal discomfort.
Clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins are fertility drugs that can be used for IUI. However, gonadotropins are much more effective.