How Does IUI Work

What is IUI?

Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) is a common method of infertility treatment that helps many couples each year. Couples who are considering it should first ask, “How does IUI work?”. Also called artificial insemination, IUI works by placing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus — hence the term intra-uterine.

How does IUI work?

IUI is an advanced method of infertility treatment, but it works in a straightforward way:

  • Medication may be used to stimulate ovulation
  • Ultrasound is used to monitor follicle development
  • A semen sample is washed to separate sperm
  • Concentrated sperm is injected into the uterus
  • IUI works without the manipulation of a woman’s eggs, so it is less expensive than other assisted reproductive technology treatments for infertility.

How does fertilization occur?

IUI works with a partner’s sperm or with sperm from a donor who has been screened for diseases.

Prior to the IUI procedure, the sperm is washed to concentrate the sperm cells from the seminal fluid, increasing the chances of conception.

The IUI procedure injects sperm into the uterus, using a catheter and ultrasound guidance, around the time of ovulation.

The end result is the placement of as many sperm as possible within reach of the fallopian tubes, where sperm will have a higher chance of fertilizing an egg.

Does IUI work for me?

IUI may work for people experiencing infertility with one of these factors:

  • Donor sperm needed
  • Low sperm count or poor sperm ability
  • Ejaculatory dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation
  • Antisperm antibodies
  • Cervical conditions that are hostile toward sperm
  • Irregular or poor ovulation

How often does IUI work?

IUI works best when used in conjunction with fertility drugs such as clomiphene citrate or injectable gonadotropins. These medications work by stimulating the ovaries so they produce more than one follicle per month.

This increases the number of eggs exposed to sperm, thereby increasing the chance for pregnancy. If a woman has normal ovulation, IUI may be used and work successfully without medication.

A woman’s age and health — along with the health of sperm — are the main factors in an IUI cycle’s success rate.

Women younger than 35 typically have more success, but on average, IUI works within a given cycle for about 10-20% of women.

With medication to boost fertility, even women age 38-39 often have a viable pregnancy within two cycles.

The core IUI procedure is brief and causes minimal discomfort, so multiple cycles work well for most people.

Related: Meet Kelly and Charles

Learn more about how IUI can work in your situation

Oregon Reproductive Medicine provides a full diagnosis, evaluation, and treatments for infertility.

You can find out more about how IUI treatments work at a free informational seminar, where doctors from Oregon Reproductive Medicine will answer all your questions and discuss the promising infertility treatments now available to couples.

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