Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), a form of artificial insemination, is a relatively simple procedure that increases the chances of conception by directing sperm to the right place at the right time. In this process, a thin tube called a catheter is placed directly into the cervix, and a carefully prepared sperm sample is injected directly through the catheter into the uterus. By timing the egg’s exposure to sperm in a controlled way, IUI can enhance the potential for pregnancy.

When is IUI recommended?

IUI is often recommended for individuals or couples who:

  • Have ovulation problems and are undergoing ovulation induction, especially when timed intercourse has not succeeded
  • Are unable to have appropriately timed intercourse
  • Have mild male factor infertility
  • Have unexplained infertility
  • Are using donor sperm
  • Have been unsuccessful with infertility medication alone or with other treatments

Preparing for an IUI procedure

To determine the best treatment plan, a physician may recommend some or all of the following tests before moving forward with artificial insemination:

  • A hysterosalpingogram, wherein a small amount of fluid is delivered into the uterus and tubes and an X-ray is taken, outlining the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes
  • FSH and estradiol blood level tests to assess ovarian function, egg production, and quality
  • A semen analysis to determine the volume, quality, and motility of sperm
  • Routine blood tests such as thyroid and prolactin hormones, proof of immunity to Chicken Pox and German measles, blood type, vitamin D levels, and screening for genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis.

For individuals providing sperm for IUI, it’s recommended that they abstain from ejaculation for 2 to 5 days. Abstaining for more than 7 days can result in decreased motility.

IUI with Fertility Medication

IUI may be performed during a normal ovulation-menstrual cycle, or with the use of ovary-stimulating fertility medication. Studies have demonstrated that IUI in combination with medications that stimulate egg production can significantly increase the chances of conception. These medications include Clomid, (clomiphene citrate), Femara (letrozole), Follistim, Menopur, Bravelle, and Gonal-f.

Fertility medication is often recommended for those diagnosed with age-related sub-fertility, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, or male factor infertility.

What to Expect from the IUI procedure

Before the artificial insemination procedure, sperm is collected through masturbation, either at home or in our clinic. The sperm is then sent to our laboratory where it is separated from the seminal fluid which can irritate the uterine lining. The most active and healthy sperm are extracted and then placed into the uterus via a catheter. The entire procedure takes no more than 5 minutes.

In rare cases, there may be mild cramping following the procedure, but this is normally mild and short-lived. Our patients can resume normal activity immediately. Their doctor may recommend that the patient have intercourse on the day or evening of artificial insemination to further increase the chances of conception.

Donor Sperm IUI

The procedure is similar for patients who are using donor sperm. Sperm from the sperm bank, which will already be here on the day IUI is performed, is thawed and assessed for sperm count and motility. From that point, the insemination with frozen-thawed donor sperm is the same as with fresh sperm.

Learn More About Using Donor Sperm

  • There is less than a 1% chance of pelvic infection with IUI. If using fertility medications, there may be possible side effects to consider, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), in which ovaries become swollen and painful.

Choose Pacific Fertility Center for IUI in San Francisco

We invite you to schedule an IUI consultation with one of the board-certified physicians of Pacific Fertility Center®, the San Francisco Bay Area's leading fertility clinic.

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