Is Intra-Uterine Insemination For Me?

Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) is known for its success as a form of artificial insemination, achieving much better success than alternative methods of artificial insemination. This knowledge can give you confidence in the procedure, but is it the best treatment for you?

What is IUI?

First a quick look at IUI, which aims to treat infertility, or offer same sex couples and single parents the opportunity to get pregnant. The procedure is in principle a simple one, making use of a sperm sample taken from either a male partner or donor, which is washed and tested for communicable disease, to artificially inseminate a woman. Usually the sample is filtered and only the most motile (active) sperm chosen for the procedure itself as this ensures the best chance of conception. These sperm are then placed near the womb, also known as the uterus, at the point during the menstrual cycle when eggs are released (ovulation).

The result is a hugely improved chance of successful insemination in a manner that is relatively straightforward and cost effective. The probability of success with IUI can get up to 70% by the 6th cycle of treatment for many couples, promising figures in the area of fertility.

Is IUI a good choice for me?

A consultation with a fertility specialist is the best way to determine any treatment’s suitability for you and your unique circumstances. IUI will typically be recommended where the cause of infertility remains unknown, despite testing and investigation into it, and where ovulation is healthy and regular. It is particularly useful where a male partner suffers from either premature ejaculation or impotence, and of course if there is no male partner and donor sperm is being used to achieve pregnancy for a same sex couple or single mum.

As a woman the criteria for successful IUI are open and healthy fallopian tubes which are free of scarring or defects. This is determined by what is called a tubal patency test, which makes sure that there is no damage to your fallopian tubes, a structure linking your ovaries to your womb. This is usually done by means of a minimally invasive technique called a laparoscopy, which makes use of a small fibre optic cable inserted into your abdomen through a small incision to allow your doctor an examination and visualisation of your pelvis and reproductive organs.

IUI is also only an option where the sperm involved is healthy. This isn’t so much of an issue with donor sperm as these are taken on the basis of good fertility, but can be a problem if there is a male partner whose sperm suffer from any one of the common causes of male infertility. These include poor sperm motility (movement), morphology (shape), and count. A successful IUI procedure needs enough sperm in the sample used that move well and are well shaped for their purpose.

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