intrauterine insemination (IUI)

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Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is considered to be the least invasive of the assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods. Around the time woman's ovary releases one or more eggs, properly prepared sperm is placed directly in the uterus via the catheter to achieve fertilization.

There are two types of IUI procedures:

  • when it’s synchronized with normal ovulation cycle (unstimulated cycle). The blood or urine tests are used to identify when the woman is about to ovulate and then IUI will be performed.
  • in case of stimulation of ovulation with fertility drugs, the procedure is called stimulated cycle. The development of the follicles on the ovary is monitored with an ultrasound and when they reached the appropriate size the ovulation is triggered by administration of another hormone. This approach increases the amount of eggs released during the ovulation and subsequently gives a better chance of successful fertilization.

Insemination is performed at the time of ovulation. The semen is collected from the partner or the donor and prepared for both types of IUI following the same protocol. It includes delay of the potentially toxic agents and concentration of the healthiest and the most mobile sperm. The semen preparation is placed into the uterine cavity. In general IUI is a painless procedure, which takes only a few minutes. Nonetheless, despite the benefits of the procedure the risks associated with infertility drugs usage should be taken into consideration. 

IUI is an effective first line therapy for the treatment of many causes of infertility which include:

  • Mild male factor infertility
  • Cervical factor infertility
  • Endometriosis-related infertility
  • Unexplainable  infertility
  • In cases when donor sperm usage is required.

The success rates for IUI are generally around 15-20 % per cycle. The efficacy of IUI depends on many variables namely the female age, the reason for infertility, and whether the fertility drugs were used. However, although IUI is a less invasive and less expensive option, pregnancy rates from IUI are lower than those from IVF.

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