What is IUI?
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves low dose fertility drugs to stimulate egg production and then placing motile sperm inside the uterus close to your eggs, at the time you ovulate. This maximise the chances of sperm reaching an egg and for fertilisation to occur. Although the procedure itself is straightforward, the timing is very important.
If you are a same sex couple or single woman undergoing IUI treatment it will not always be necessary for you to receive low dose fertility drugs. This will be discussed with you at your consultation.
Who is IUI suitable for?
IUI is suitable for couples where the woman does not have tubal damage and the man has a normal or only mildly suboptimal semen analysis. It is also utilised when donor sperm is being used.
How does IUI work?
Before commencing treatment, an ultrasound scan is carried out. Providing this is normal, your treatment is started with a low dose of fertility drugs to stimulate the production of one or more follicles.
A week after you starting the fertility drugs another scan is carried out to check how many follicles are growing. We are aiming for a maximum of 2 large follicles and no more than 2 smaller. If your scan shows this, a final injection of a different hormone is required that causes ovulation 34–40 hours later. Insemination will be timed to coincide with this. Your partner will need to attend the clinic on the day of IUI treatment to produce a sperm sample for preparation by the laboratory.
If you are having IUI and not taking fertility drugs the IUI treatment will take place around when you would naturally be ovulating.
The insemination is done using a fine catheter that is passed into your uterus through the cervix. The washed, prepared sperm is then injected slowly using a syringe. The procedure itself only takes a few minutes.
What are the IUI success rates?
Pregnancy rates for IUI using a partner’s sperm are around 15% per treatment cycle. This is lower than with IVF/ICSI, as we are not able to be certain that fertilisation has taken place following insemination. For this reason IUI treatment is usually limited to 3 cycles of treatment before we recommend progressing to IVF.