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What is IUI and how does it work?

IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. It’s also sometimes called donor insemination, alternative insemination, or artificial insemination. IUI works by putting sperm cells directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation, helping the sperm get closer to the egg. This cuts down on the time and distance sperm has to travel, making it easier to fertilize the egg. IUI is very successful and safe in cases of low-sperm counts or for women without male partners.

Before having the insemination procedure, an individual may take fertility medicines that stimulate ovulation. Semen is collected from a partner or sperm bank. It goes through a process called “sperm washing” that collects a concentrated amount of healthy sperm from the semen. Pregnancy happens if sperm fertilizes the egg, and the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus.

IUI is a simple and low-tech procedure, and it can be less expensive than other types of fertility treatments. It increases one’s chances of pregnancy, but everyone’s body is different, so there is no guarantee that IUI will work.

What can I expect during IUI?

Before IUI, you may take fertility medicines that help your eggs mature and be ready to be fertilized. Your clinician will do the insemination procedure during ovulation (when your ovaries release an egg). Sometimes you will be given hormones that trigger ovulation.  They’ll figure out exactly when you’re ovulating and prepare for the procedure to maximize your chances of getting pregnant.

During the IUI procedure, the clinician slides a thin, flexible tube through your cervix into your uterus. They use a small syringe to insert the sperm through the tube directly into your uterus. The insemination procedure is done at one of our health centers, and only takes about 5-10 minutes. It is a relatively quick procedure and patients don’t need anesthesia. IUI is usually not painful, but some people have mild cramping.