Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
IUI involves separating fast-moving sperm from more sluggish sperm in a laboratory in order to identify the sperm that will offer the best chance of fertilisation. You may be offered IUI if you are using donor sperm in your treatment, if you and your partner find it difficult to have vaginal intercourse, or you have a condition that means you need help to conceive.
What to expect
Before beginning IUI, we will need to confirm that your fallopian tubes are open and healthy. We will offer you a tubal patency test to check your fallopian tubes.
This may include a laparoscopy: an operation in which we inject dye through your cervix and use a telescope with a tiny camera attached (a laparoscope) to inspect your fallopian tubes for blockages.
Alternatively, we may offer you a hysterosalpingo-contrast sonography (HyCoSy) – which involves using a vaginal ultrasound probe to check the fallopian tubes for blockages. In addition, we could perform a hysterosalpingogram, an x-ray of your fallopian tubes.
If you are using fertility drugs to simulate ovulation, we will use vaginal ultrasound scans to track the development of your eggs. As soon as an egg is mature, we will give you a hormone injection to simulate its release.
IUI carries few risks. The primary risk is that you might have a multiple pregnancy, which carries serious health risks for you and your babies. Your risk of multiple pregnancy will depend on how many eggs develop. We will discuss this with you.
Visit the HFEA website to learn more about this procedure.
If you are not using fertility drugs to simulate ovulation, we will perform IUI between day 12 and day 16 of your monthly cycle, with day one being the first day of your period. We will give you blood tests or urine tests to identify when you are about to ovulate.
We will insert sperm into your uterus 36 to 40 hours after we confirm you are ovulating. The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to keep your vaginal walls apart. The doctor will thread a small, flexible tube called a catheter into your womb via your cervix. We will select the best quality sperm from the sample produced by your partner or a donor and insert it through the catheter.
The procedure takes just a few minutes and it is usually painless, though some women experience temporary, menstrual-like cramping. You may want to rest for a short time before going home, but you will be able to go home shortly after your procedure.
We will give you a date to take a pregnancy test – usually about two weeks after your procedure. If your round of IUI is successful, we can refer you to our maternity services or back to your GP to discuss your options for maternity care.
If your round of IUI is unsuccessful, we will invite you for a consultation to discuss next steps.