Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placing of sperm into a woman’s uterus when she is ovulating. This procedure is commonly used for couples with unexplained infertility, minimal male factor infertility, and women with cervical mucus problems.
The timing of IUI is crucial, as the insemination must be performed at the time of ovulation, which is usually within 24-36 hours after the LH surge is detected, or after the “trigger” injection of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is administered.
If injectable ovulation stimulating drugs are used in an IUI cycle, careful monitoring is essential. Monitoring includes periodic blood tests and ultrasounds beginning around day 6 of the woman’s cycle. Results of these tests will indicate when eggs are mature, prompting the hCG shot.
Special procedures are also performed to ensure that sperm are in optimal condition. For example, the sperm undergo a process called washing. This involves cleansing the sperm of potentially toxic chemicals, which may cause adverse reactions in the uterus. Sperm separation is also performed. Separation selects out motile sperm from the mans ejaculate and concentrates them into a small volume.
After these procedures are performed, the sperm is then deposited directly into the uterus using a small, soft catheter, which is passed through a speculum directly into the woman’s uterus.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a relatively quick and inexpensive procedure and is performed in the doctor’s office without any anesthesia. While many experience no pain, some women do report mild discomfort.