ARC® Fertility Articles

Intrauterine Insemination
Wayne State University Physician Group 
26400 West Twelve Mile Road, Suite 140
Southfield, MI 48034
Ph: 248-352-8200

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which a washed semen sample is directly placed into the top of the uterine cavity with a very soft catheter at or near the time of ovulation. This procedure is indicated when there are problems with the sperm, such as a low count or low motility, or an incompatibility between the sperm and the cervical mucus. This procedure can also be used empirically in cases of unexplained infertility. It is less commonly used to overcome problems associated with a man’s inability to ejaculate inside the woman’s vagina due to impotence, premature ejaculation or other medical conditions. IUI bypasses the cervix and increases the chances of pregnancy because the sperm is placed directly at the top of the uterus closer to the egg(s).

IUIs can be performed either with the partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. It is common that the female partner use some ovulation inducing agents especially if she does not ovulate regularly. These medications will help her ovulate regularly. Ovulation induction medications may be used for unexplained infertility or mild male factor infertility in addition to IUIs. Generally, the male will provide a semen sample two hours before the procedure is to be performed. It is preferred that the man collect his sample in a private room at our medical office. Alternatively, he can collect a sample at home provided that he has the appropriate collection container and he brings the sample to the office within an hour of the collection (at the designated appointment time) and that the sample be maintained at room temperature. He should not use lubricants or saliva to assist in collecting this specimen as they are harmful to sperm.

The semen is washed by separating the sperm from the seminal fluid in the lab. The sperm is ultimately placed in a special solution designed for insemination. The IUI procedure lasts only a few minutes. The discomfort a patient may experience will be about the same that she would experience when she gets a pap smear. A small catheter is inserted into the uterine cavity through the cervix and thereafter the sperm sample is deposited directly into the top of the uterus. The patient will then rest for the next 15 minutes on the exam room table and then be able to resume normal activity. A pregnancy test can be scheduled approximately 2 weeks after an IUI.

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