Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
In order for a woman to get pregnant, the man’s sperm must travel from the vagina through the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Fertilization of the egg by the sperm occurs in the fallopian tubes. At times there may be difficulties for the sperm to swim into the uterus. The cervical mucus could be a barrier for the sperm to enter the uterus. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an in-office procedure in which the sperm is placed via a small plastic catheter into the uterus and bypasses the cervix and vagina.
IUI is performed with semen collected from the man. The sample is “washed” in the laboratory to concentrate the sperm and remove the seminal fluid (which can cause cramping in the woman). This process can take up to two hours to complete.
The IUI procedure takes just a few minutes and is relatively simple. The woman lies on the exam table, the clinician inserts a vaginal speculum, and then inserts a plastic catheter through the cervix and the washed semen sample is injected into the uterus. After a few minutes, the woman can leave and resume her day.
IUIs are timed around a woman’s ovulation. This can be predicted through office monitoring with bloodwork and ultrasounds, and the use of a urine ovulation kit.
The risks for IUI are minimal and can include bleeding and infection.