Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is often used as a first line fertility treatment. Indications for IUI include unexplained infertility, mild male factor infertility, or circumstances where sperm cannot enter the vagina through intercourse. IUI can be done with a partner’s sperm, but in a situation where a partner cannot produce sperm, a sperm donor may be used.
A narrow catheter is used to infuse the sperm into the uterus. A well-timed IUI can be very effective if there are no reproductive blockages. When the fallopian tubes are not functional, IVF is a better alternative. IUI success is dependent on the health of the eggs, the quality of the sperm that is infused, and proper timing of the procedure. In some cases, IUI is performed when ovulation occurs naturally. Your doctor may recommend fertility hormones to artificially trigger ovulation. When fertility hormones are used, the IUI is timed to the fertile period prior to ovulation. IUI performed more than 12 hours after ovulation has lower success.
The sperm that will be infused into the uterus is separated from the seminal fluid in our andrology laboratory. The seminal fluid contains substances that do not naturally enter the uterus so a pure sperm preparation is required. Following the separation procedure, sperm is re-suspended in a very small volume of sterile medium that will keep the sperm actively mobile. The volume of fluid used is very small (0.3 ml) because the uterus would expel larger volumes. You may notice that the fluid is pink in color to indicate that the fluid has the proper ph to maintain sperm viability. The separation process takes 1-2 hours, but the sperm can safely be stored in our incubator for up to 24 hours after resuspension. The IUI procedure can occur anytime after the preparation is complete but can be safely delayed to accommodate your schedule
The insemination is performed by passing a sterile catheter through the cervical canal into the uterine cavity and then injecting the sperm suspension into the top of the uterus near the entrance of the fallopian tubes. Insemination should be similar to the experience of a PAP smear. While the speculum may be uncomfortable the catheter should not cause discomfort as it passes into the uterus. We ask that you remain in a relaxed position for 5 minutes after the procedure. Following the IUI you can resume normal physical and sexual activity. Your team will schedule an appointment to determine if you are pregnant in about 2 weeks.
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