Many women begin their treatment with a longstanding option, intrauterine insemination (IUI). Not all women are good candidates for IUI, though, so let’s explore the procedure and when it’s a fertility treatment you should consider.
IUI is a type of artificial insemination. The procedure typically begins with medication that triggers egg maturation and ovulation. Then we closely monitor your monthly cycle with a combination of ultrasound, blood tests, and possibly at-home ovulation kits, so we can implant sperm at the time you ovulate.
The sperm go through sperm washing, a gentle procedure to remove semen and biochemicals that could irritate your uterus.
During washing, non-motile sperm are removed, concentrating the healthy sperm into a small volume. Then we use a catheter attached to a syringe to place the sperm inside your uterus, close to the fallopian tube openings.
The sperm still need to travel up the fallopian tube, where they meet the egg. But compared to traveling through the cervix and to the top of your uterus, IUI significantly increases the chance that a sperm will fertilize the egg.
Infertility problems treated with IUI
IUI is a potential option when you have unexplained infertility, which means we can’t determine the underlying cause of your infertility. While that’s often frustrating, it’s the diagnosis in 10-20% of infertile couples, and you can take heart because fertility treatments are usually successful in women with unexplained infertility.
You can also consider IUI when your infertility is the result of:
- Hostile cervical environment (cervical mucus problems)
- Cervical scar tissue blocking sperm
- Low sperm count
- Decreased sperm motility
- Ejaculation problems
IUI is not a good option if your fallopian tubes are blocked, you have a small number of eggs, or your eggs aren’t viable. Women with a history of pelvic infections, moderate to severe endometriosis, or a hormonal balance need to have their underlying condition treated before considering IUI.