Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Commonly known as artificial insemination, intrauterine insemination (IUI) is traditionally the intermediate step in infertility treatment before a course of IVF is attempted. IUI involves placing washed sperm (sperm separated from the naturally accompanying seminal plasma) into a very thin flexible catheter, which is inserted through the woman’s cervix and then injected into the uterus.
Most women find the IUI procedure to be fairly painless, similar to having a pap smear, though there can be some cramping afterward. Ideally, an IUI should be performed immediately after ovulation (particularly when treating male factor infertility) or within six hours either side of ovulation.
While recent studies have found that IUI and natural intercourse produce similar birth rates, some studies reported that IUI gives an extra 5% chance of pregnancy depending on the patient’s age. We recommend 3 to 4 cycles of IUI cycles for women with good ovarian reserve, or unknown origins of infertility. IUI can be a gentle step before moving on to IVF for individuals who are not yet ready to begin IVF. Some insurance companies also require that couples undergo six cycles IUIs before covering future IVF cycles.