IUI involves placing specially prepared sperm high inside the woman’s uterus (womb). It is usually only of use to women who have normal healthy Fallopian tubes. IUI can be carried out using your partner’s own sperm, usually in cases where couple infertility cannot be explained, or using donor sperm (see sperm recipients).
How is IUI carried out?
The first step in IUI is to predict the day on which the woman’s egg is released.
This is done by using ultrasound scans and/or urine tests which measure the hormone produced a few hours before natural ovulation occurs. You are able to do the urine tests yourself at home, but you will need to make a couple of visits to the clinic in the first half of your cycle for the scans. Urine testing kits can be obtained from your chemist.
When the best day has been reached the actual treatment is simple. The neck of the womb is examined using the same instrument used for a cervical smear. A very fine tube is used to inject the prepared sperm through the neck of the womb. This procedure lasts about 5 minutes and you can then rest for 10-15 minutes before going home.
If we are using your partner’s sperm then on the day of insemination we will need a sample of semen to be brought to the laboratory two hours before the insemination. If you live near to the Unit the sample can be produced at home and brought to the Unit within one hour. If you live at a distance the sample may need to be produced at the Unit, where we have a room for this purpose. The sample is then prepared in the laboratory, and passed into the uterus as above.
A centrifuge used to prepare sperm for IUI.
Use of ovulation stimulation
Some women do not ovulate regularly. Some experts also believe that these procedures work more reliably if you produce more than one egg. In both these situations we may suggest that we stimulate your ovaries. This is done with either fertility tablets or injections, or both, which means that we can be more precise about the day of ovulation, but also that we need to arrange more scans.
It is important that you read the information on ‘Ovulation Stimulation’ for further information on the side effects of treatment.
Is there an age limit for treatment?
All fertility treatments are less successful in women over the age of 40 and our unit does not routinely offer treatment to patients over this age.
What counselling is available?
Artificial insemination can be demanding and stressful. Personal and independent counselling is available at all stages of your treatment. We have experienced infertility counsellors you can see at any stage of your infertility. Our counsellors are independent of the Unit and any counselling you receive will be kept confidential. Please see our counselling page for details.