Intrauterine insemination ( also known as IUI) is a type of assisted reproductive technology that helps sperm get directly to the uterus. The procedure takes a washed sperm sample (when sperm cells are separated from semen) and injects it into the uterus using a catheter.
Why use it?
There are many different reasons someone might want to use IUI. If they’re receiving sperm from a donor, IUI is an effective way to get sperm to the uterus without having intercourse. It can also help women whose partners have a low sperm count or low sperm motility, as it injects sperm directly into the uterus. Other reasons to use IUI include scarring in the cervix, endometriosis, semen allergy, or unexplained infertility.
Other methods of insemination (intracervical insemination and intravaginal insemination) don’t place sperm as close to the uterus and therefore might have a lower chance of success.
How long does it take?
The actual IUI procedure is short, but the preparation leading up to it could take a couple days. It’s recommended that women be at peak fertility for the insemination, so many women use ovulation predictor kits to get the timing right. Some healthcare providers use transvaginal ultrasounds to see egg growth or hormones to induce ovulation. The IUI will usually be done a day or two after ovulation is detected. Fresh sperm will be washed, and frozen sperm will be thawed and washed, which could take up to two hours. The IUI itself will take a few minutes.
How much does it cost?
According to Resolve, the average cost of an IUI cycle is about $865, and the median cost is around $350. If IUI is being used in addition to fertility treatments, the overall cost will increase.
What are the risks?
With IUI comes the risk of infection, especially if the procedure isn’t done by a licensed medical professional. The placement of the catheter in the uterus can also cause some spotting, but this usually won’t have an effect on the pregnancy. There’s also a chance that IUI could result in multiples when combined with other fertility treatments like ovulation-inducing medication.
How effective is it?
Success rates for IUI vary widely depending on a woman’s age, reproductive history, cause of infertility, lifestyle, and many other factors. For women under the age of 35, the rates of success for IUI are around 10-20% per cycle. Women who are between 35 and 40 have a 10% chance of IUI being successful. Women who are 40 and above have a 2-5% chance of success with IUI.
- “The costs of infertility treatments.” Resolve. The National Infertility Association. 2006. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Intrauterine insemination: Why it’s done.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. June 21, 2016. Web.