IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a common infertility treatment that can help couples conceive. It is often the first treatment to be recommended when couples have ‘unexplained infertility’ – that is no medical reason why they cannot get pregnant.
IUI treatment explained
IUI treatment is when good quality, pre-prepared ‘washed’ sperm is inserted directly into the uterus. IUI puts the sperm closer to the egg in the hope that fertilisation occurs.
Who is suitable for IUI?
IUI is often a good course of treatment if:
- The male partner has a low sperm count, but what is available is good quality, healthy sperm
- The man’s sperm is normal but has poor motility, meaning it cannot swim to the egg
- There are ovulation problems – IUI can be used in conjunction with fertility drugs to boost the number of eggs produced
- Single women and same-sex couples can also use IUI to conceive using donor sperm
In order for IUI to be successful, there must be enough healthy, motile sperm available and the fallopian tubes must be open and healthy, with no blockages. If not, IVF may be a more suitable course of infertility treatment.
Do I need to take fertility drugs to undergo IUI treatment?
No, not always. IUI treatment with fertility drugs is only usually recommended when there are problems with ovulation. If you have unexplained fertility, or it’s only the male partner that is affected, then natural cycle IUI is the usual course of treatment. This is to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy.
How does IUI work?
If you are having IUI treatment without using fertility drugs, then the treatment will occur around the same time you ovulate naturally in your cycle. If you are using fertility drugs, regular scans are used to monitor the development of your eggs and IUI is timed for when the egg is released.
The best-quality sperm are then inserted into the uterus, near to a fallopian tube, via a catheter. This is a simple and quick procedure, which is painless. Some women may experience mild cramping. After the treatment you won’t need to stay in the clinic, although you may wish to rest for a while.
What are the success rates for IUI?