Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that places sperm past the cervix and in a woman’s uterus around the time of ovulation. This makes the passage to the fallopian tubes much shorter and there is a better chance that more sperm will encounter the egg. The goal of this procedure is to improve a woman’s chance of getting pregnant.
Who might benefit from IUI?
The most common use for IUI is when no cause for the infertility is found. Infertile women may be advised to take ovarian stimulating medications that cause their ovaries to mature several eggs at once. The goal is to increase the chance of pregnancy by putting more sperm in contact with more eggs.
Cervical Stenosis or Abnormalities:
IUI is helpful when a woman’s cervix has scarring that prevents the sperm from entering the uterus from the vagina. This may be seen in women who have had surgery on their cervix. IUI can also assist when a woman has a cervix that is shaped abnormally in a way that prevents the passage of sperm.
Problems with Sperm Delivery:
IUI may be helpful for male patients with difficulty in having an erection or ejaculation during intercourse. It may also benefit male patients diagnosed with retrograde ejaculation (when the sperm are released backward into the bladder instead of through the penis at the time of male orgasm. Prior surgeries or medical conditions, such as diabetes, can cause retrograde ejaculation).
Lack of Ovulation (Anovulation):
When an egg doesn't release from the ovary during the menstrual cycle.
Third Party Reproduction:
Couple requiring donor sperm to achieve pregnancy. This is called “donor insemination”.
The male partner has frozen sperm obtained prior to surgery or treatment for diseases like testicular cancer.
How is IUI performed?
Once the semen is collected via male partner masturbation, the semen sample will undergo a “sperm wash” in the laboratory to concentrate the sperm and remove the seminal fluid (seminal fluid can cause severe cramping in the woman). This process can take up to 1-2 hours to complete.
IUI is performed near the time that the woman is ovulating. The IUI procedure is relatively simple and only takes a few minutes once the semen sample is ready.
What is In Vitro Fertilization?
- A form of ART (assisted reproductive technology) in which a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined outside of the body in a laboratory petri dish
- A woman receives medications to stimulate her ovaries to develop multiple follicles with eggs
- A minor procedure under sedation using transvaginal ultrasound to aspirate the follicles and obtain the eggs followed by same day sperm insemination
- Monitoring embryo growth to determine the optimal day & embryo(s) for transfer
Who Might Benefit from IVF?
In vitro fertilization is typically recommended for couples who have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for one year and who display one or more of the following fertility problems:
- Blocked fallopian tubes from scarring or tubal ligation
- Lack of ovulation
- Extremely low male sperm count or low motility
- Advanced endometriosis
- Male partner with a history of a vasectomy
- Diminished egg supply and poor egg vitality
- Egg donation and/or IVF surrogacy
IVF is generally recommended for couples that have failed to conceive after three unsuccessful IUI cycles.