Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Common Treatment for Infertility
Intrauterine insemination is a common treatment that can help infertile couples start families. During this minimally invasive procedure, which is often performed in an Ovation partner physician’s office, washed sperm, from a woman’s partner or a donor, are painlessly inserted directly into the woman’s uterus. Placing the sperm into the uterus increases the chance of achieving a pregnancy because the sperm does not have to make the journey from the woman’s vagina, up through the cervix and into the uterus.
During intercourse, millions of sperm are deposited in the vagina. Of these, a few thousand make it through the cervix into the uterus, and a few hundred make it into the fallopian tube where the egg is waiting. With IUI, millions of motile sperm are placed into the uterus, markedly increasing the number that can make it to the tube and potentially fertilize the egg.
Which Patients Benefit from IUI?
Several different clinical conditions can prompt fertility specialists to suggest IUI as a treatment. These circumstances include:
- Women who have irregular ovulation
- Women with cervical scarring, for example from surgery such as a LEEP, or other treatment for an abnormal Pap smear
- Cases of male factor infertility caused by such conditions as a low sperm count, erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation
- The use of frozen (cryopreserved) sperm used under conditions such as cancer treatment, the lack of available fresh sperm or the absence of a male partner
What To Expect during IUI
Once sperm has been collected from the woman’s partner or from a donor, the semen sample goes to our state-of-the-art Ovation Fertility laboratory, where it is “washed.” This procedure not only ensures that the most motile (or moving) sperm are concentrated for insemination, but it also removes seminal fluid from the sample, which helps reduce cramping that could result from the IUI.
IUI can be performed either during a woman’s natural ovulatory cycle, or in combination with ovulation induction using medication such as Clomid (clomiphene citrate), Letrozole (femara) or gonadotropins.
The IUI procedure is similar to a routine pelvic examination. After inserting a speculum into the vagina, a very small catheter is passed through the cervix into the uterus, and the sperm is injected directly into the uterus. This only takes about one minute. After the sperm injection, the woman lies still on the table for another 10 minutes.
When the procedure is finished, a patient can return immediately to her regular activities. Most patients report the procedure is essentially painless, with a few reporting mild discomfort or cramping. Some women may experience some light spotting following an insemination.
Ovation Brings Years of Experience to IUI
IUI is just one of the ways that Ovation partner physicians and scientists help patients create their families. IUI has a 6% to 25% success rate, depending on multiple factors, including the type of treatment associated with the procedure, and the couple’s cause(s) of infertility. For more information, contact us.