This is a relatively simple procedure in which sperm are washed, concentrated and prepared in the laboratory to ensure that the best sperm are collected.
The sperm are then injected artificially via a catheter into the woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation. This treatment relies on the natural ability of the sperm to reach and fertilise the egg. The aim of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and thus increase the chances of fertilisation.
This treatment can be performed with sperm of the male partner or with donor sperm. It may involve the female partner being given fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to develop several eggs each month.
IUI is often selected by couples who have been trying to conceive for at least a year but who have no known reasons for their infertility. IUI can be effective when using donor sperm and in cases of low sperm count, poor sperm mobility, cervical factor infertility and immunological abnormalities.
Unlike IVF or ICSI, IUI does not involve egg collection or general anaesthesia and is currently a popular and successful treatment for specific infertility problems. Success rates vary, but when the problem is related to the ability of the sperm to meet the egg, IUI can be the optimal solution. If IUI is unsuccessful after several attempts IVF or ICSI may be recommended because of a possible underlying or unidentified problem.