What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), or simply insemination, is the placement of a concentrated sample of sperm via a syringe into a uterus for the purpose of producing a pregnancy. For this procedure, a speculum is used to see the cervix. A soft, thin catheter is then placed through the cervix and into the uterus. The washed sperm is then introduced into the uterus through this catheter. The procedure is done in the office and takes about 5 minutes. It is not painful and does not require anesthesia.
The sperm sample is specially prepared in the andrology laboratory. The procedure is commonly known as “sperm washing”. This involves placing the sperm sample in a test tube and then a centrifuge. This results in the sperm collecting in a “pellet” at the bottom of the test tube. The seminal fluid is removed and fluid (media) is placed above the sperm. The most active sperm will then swim up into the media. The final sample consists of the most active sperm in a small volume of media.
Timing the Insemination
The insemination is done around the time of ovulation. The timing does not need to be exact in order to be successful because the sperm remain in the reproductive tract for up to a few days.
Please refer to the Donor Sperm information section on our Third Party Reproduction page.
WHAT TO EXPECT
IUI may be used on its own or along with the use of fertility medication. Common medications used include:
- Clomiphene citrate
These medications are taken during the first part of the menstrual cycle. When ovulation occurs, an IUI is performed.
On the day of the IUI procedure, if a fresh sperm sample is to be used, it will be produced in one of our private collection rooms at the clinic. The sample is given to one of our laboratory personnel (an andrologist). After receiving the sample, the andrologist prepares the sperm using a wash process (this takes approximately two hours). Once ready, the sample will be placed into the uterus using a thin plastic catheter. It takes about 5 minutes to perform.
If a frozen sperm sample is to be used, it will be thawed the morning before the insemination and processed similarly to the fresh sample.