Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI)

What is Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination is a fertility treatment that involves preparing a sperm sample and placing it inside the uterus at the time of ovulation, with the aim of increasing the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and improve the chance of fertilization.

IUI gives the sperm an advantage by giving it a ‘head start’, but still requires a sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own.

When is IUI recommended?

IUI may be performed during a ‘natural’ cycle or in combination with fertility drugs for Ovulation Induction (OI), however it is advised primarily for women who are aged 37 or under.

It can be recommended for problems such as:

  • Mild sperm abnormalities such as a low sperm count or decreased sperm mobility
  • Cervical problems
  • Psycho-sexual problems
  • Unexplained infertility

It is not recommended in the following cases:

  • Significant endometriosis (grades III – IV)
  • Tubal disease (e.g. following tubal infection)
  • Significant sperm abnormalities
  • If the woman is over 37 years of age

What is involved in IUI?

IUI involves obtaining a semen sample from the male partner around the time of ovulation. This is then prepared it in the laboratory to remove poor quality sperm, leaving a small, highly purified sample of healthy sperm at the correct concentration for fertilization.

The prepared sample is then inserted into the woman’s uterus. Using very soft thin tubing, the sample is placed into the uterine cavity. This procedure is similar to having a smear test.

IUI requires accurately predicting when ovulation may occur, as it must be performed when the woman is ovulating to be successful. To do this, we monitor the woman’s cycle using vaginal ultrasound scanning in a process called follicle tracking.