Artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a treatment for infertility, when a couple cannot conceive a baby. It involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s womb.
In IUI, a man provides a sample of sperm, which is then ‘washed’ and filtered in the laboratory using special techniques. The technique separates fast moving sperm from more sluggish or non-moving sperm. This ensures that only the highest quality sperm is used for the procedure.
During the procedure, the concentrated and fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle.
IUI may help you as a couple if:
- The woman has mild endometriosis.
- There are ovulation problems.
- You are unable to have sex because of disability, injury, or if your partner experiences premature ejaculation.
- You or your partner’s fertility problems are unexplained.
- If you are a single woman and are trying for a baby using donated sperm. (Please note that treatment is not currently available on the NHS for this group)
It is essential that your fallopian tubes are known to be open and healthy before the IUI process begins. A tubal patency test is usually carried out as part of your assessment by the fertility clinic. This can be done by hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is a form of X-ray, Hycosy, which is a form of scan or using laparoscopy which is a form of keyhole surgery. These may locate any problems or blockages in your uterus or fallopian tubes.
IUI isn’t recommended if both your tubes have adhesions or scarring that might stop an egg travelling from the ovary to your uterus. But if you have at least one working tube and ovary on the same side, IUI may be an option for you.