IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), also known as artificial insemination, is a procedure used to assist patients in achieving a pregnancy. This procedure involves placing a known quantity of “washed” sperm into the uterus with a thin catheter. At least one fallopian tube must be open because after being inserted into the uterus, the sperm must swim the length of the fallopian tube and fertilize the egg at the distal end of the fallopian tube. The goal of the IUI procedure is to present a high concentration of motile sperm into the uterus to facilitate the union of an egg with a sperm in the fallopian tubes. IUI is utilized in many different situations. Some examples are couples with unexplained infertility, patients with low sperm concentration or motility, or patients with thick cervical mucus or any other conditions involving the cervix. Most couples use the IUI procedure in conjunction with fertility medications. The goal of fertility medications is to provide additional eggs for the sperm. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is often administered to trigger the release of eggs from the follicles to time the IUI procedure.
Within 12-24 hours after hCG injection, your partner is asked to produce a semen sample. Our lab will process the sample through a “sperm wash” technique that separates mobile sperm from non-mobile sperm and other cellular debris in the ejaculate. Most of the fluid will also be washed off, resulting in a highly concentrated specimen of sperm. Within an hour or two of semen preparation, your doctor will use a small catheter to place the washed semen into your uterus. This process does not cause discomfort, does not need any sedation or anesthesia, and is performed in an office setting. Patients using sperm from a donor can also benefit from this procedure.