Couples with unexplained infertility or mild to moderate male problems may be offered intrauterine insemination. The process of intrauterine insemination involves washing and preparation of a sperm sample, producing the preparation of the most actively motile sperm.

This is then placed into the cavity of the uterus using a fine catheter (a hollow tube about 2mm in diameter). Insemination is carried out at the time of ovulation. IUI is common, combined with superovulation treatment using a low dose of an injectable fertility drug (gonadotropin) given to the woman in the days before ovulation. Research has shown that IUI without gonadotropin stimulation is no more successful than placebo (a dummy treatment) in cases of unexplained infertility but gonadotropin stimulated IUI remains a less invasive and reasonably successful alternative to IVF.

Many couples prefer IUI to the more invasive and stressful techniques of IVF, but not all couples are suitable for IUI. Because fertilisation takes place in the natural environment of the fallopian tube, the female partner's tubes must be open. If there is a male fertility problem, it must not be too severe. A sperm count of more than 11 million motile sperm in the ejaculate is usually considered adequate. The chance of pregnancy after IUI following ovarian stimulation is, at best, only about 15% per attempt, but if treatments are repeated then about 50% of couples will conceive in time. Since IVF treatments are more likely to result in pregnancy, a clinic may recommend between two and four attempts at IUI before moving to IVF.

Illustrations

We have put together some illustrations for IUI techniques. To get a better understanding of this process and the treatment best suited for you, please contact us.

Resources

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