Intrauterine Insemination or IUI is a very minimally invasive procedure during which sperm is injected directly into the uterus. IUI also typically requires ovulation induction with either oral or injectable medications, which will start 2-4 days after menses. A patient will be asked to return to the office approximately 5-6 times so the doctor can monitor follicular growth and determine when ovulation will occur, so the IUI procedure can be performed accordingly. This is one of the most popular fertility treatments offered, however, before deciding to undergo IUI, you should understand the process to ensure they make an informed choice.
IUI bypasses the need to have sexual intercourse for sperm to reach a mature egg:
- The woman may receive special medications to increase the number of mature eggs – This step usually involves injections of follicle stimulating hormones, to ensure enough mature eggs are present to become fertilized.
- The man produces a semen specimen – this process can take place at home or in our facility. Alternatively, a donor may be used if preferred or medically necessary.
- The semen sample is taken to a laboratory for special processing – For healthy men, semen contains 1 to 3% sperm, with the remainder consisting of fluid containing vitamins, minerals, and proteins that nourish the sperm cells. In the laboratory, semen undergoes a “washing” procedure in which sperm are separated from the other components. Sperm cells are concentrated in a small volume, with low quality sperm separated from the higher quality sperm cells. This procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes and ensures that the best quality sperm are used, increasing odds of successful pregnancy.
- Our physicians will prepare you for insemination – a speculum is used to gently prepare the cervical area and reproductive tract for insemination. The highly motile sperm yielded from the “washing” procedure are placed into the cervix or uterine cavity. This allows the sperm to have the greatest likelihood of successfully fertilizing the woman’s mature eggs.
When performed by our physicians, the artificial insemination procedure is reminiscent of a regular Pap smear and involves little discomfort.