Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves preparing semen to separate the sperm from the fluid (plasma) and placing these “washed” cells inside the uterus, using a sterile technique.

This method may be helpful for women who have one of the following cervical problems: Poor cervical mucous, a tightly closed (stenotic) cervix, or cervical glands that have been damaged by surgery.

Several male fertility issues indicate using IUI including: Low sperm count and/or diminished sperm activity (motility) or ejaculation disturbances, such as semen backing up and entering the bladder.

IUI is also used in same sex relationships and for women who desire a pregnancy without a partner. Sometimes IUI is undertaken for patients with unexplained infertility. The decision to proceed with intrauterine insemination is made after meeting with your physician and undergoing a pelvic exam.

IUI can be performed with fresh semen from your husband/partner or with frozen donor sperm purchased from a cryobank. If you are bringing in your own semen specimen, you must carefully follow the directions provided by our office. It will usually take our laboratory one hour and thirty minutes to prepare the sperm for IUI. In some instances, the specimen will need more extensive processing which will take longer. Frozen donor specimens arrive at Coastal Women’s Healthcare ready to thaw and use. The lab will begin the thawing process approximately one hour prior to the time of your scheduled IUI to allow the sperm to achieve maximum motility.

To be successful, IUI must be carefully timed to coincide with ovulation, indicated by a woman’s monthly increase in luteinizing hormone (LH), coming from the pituitary gland and then appearing in the urine. The increase in LH can be tested through LH surge kits, also known as ovulation predictor kits, or OPKs. These tests can be purchased at any pharmacy. Follow the instructions on the package, checking your urine daily, beginning about three days before your expected ovulation. For women with a 28 day cycle, ovulation typically occurs around day 14. When using OPKs, we recommend testing mid-morning around 10 am, not using the first urine of the morning and using digital tests which allow for easier interpretation of the results. When a positive result occurs, call the office to schedule an IUI for the following day.

At the time of the IUI, your clinician will place a speculum in your vagina, and pass a small sterile tube through your cervix and into your uterus. The sperm solution is instilled through this tube. This whole process should take only a few minutes. You will be instructed to lie on the exam table for 10 to 15 minutes after the IUI is complete.

Complications are rare, and include the following: Cramping in about 5% of all women, minimal spotting seen in only 1% of all IUI patients, mild nausea in one-half of 1% of women and possible infection of the uterus and/or tubes.