Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also called artificial insemination, is a procedure which involves placing a concentrated amount of good quality sperm directly inside the woman’s uterus.

As a fertility treatment option, IUI is a simpler and more cost-efficient procedure than in vitro fertilisation (IVF). It is often recommended for younger couples with fewer fertility issues.

Why do you need IUI?

Your doctor may recommend IUI if you and your partner have the following:

  • Cervical factor infertility. If your cervical environment is not conducive or there are abnormalities, it can prevent the sperm from swimming through to reach and fertilise the egg. IUI bypasses your cervix and allows for a greater quantity of sperm to be deposited directly into your uterus.
  • Endometriosis-related infertility. Endometriosis is a painful gynaecological condition that affects your pelvic anatomy and reduces your chances of becoming pregnant. To improve the likelihood of pregnancy, ovulation medications may be used to help you ovulate before IUI is performed.
  • Mild male factor infertility (subfertility). In male factor infertility, there could be insufficient sperm in the semen (low sperm count), abnormalities in sperm size and shape (morphology) or the movement of sperm (motility) is poor. IUI helps to separate normal, highly motile sperm from lower quality sperm.
  • Ovulatory factor infertility. Some women have ovulation-related infertility such as insufficient eggs or lack of ovulation (no egg released). IUI is used in conjunction with ovulation induction medications to increase the chances of fertilisation.
  • Semen allergy. Some women have a rare allergy to the proteins found in semen. In such cases, IUI is used to remove these proteins before the sperm is deposited into the uterus.
  • Unexplained infertility. If you have tried to get pregnant for a year or more and your doctor has found no obvious problem with you or your partner, you have what doctors call 'unexplained infertility'. IUI is usually performed in this case as a first treatment along with ovulation induction medications.

What are the risks and complications of IUI?

IUI is a relatively simple and safe procedure, and the risk of serious complications is low. Risks include:

  • Infection
  • Multiple pregnancy - a multiple pregnancy (of twins, triplets or more) has higher risks than a single pregnancy does, including premature labour and low birth weight
  • Spotting (vaginal bleeding)
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