Infertility treatment - Intrauterine insemination, IUI

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placement of purified sperms into the uterus during the period of ovulation to facilitate fertilization. IUI is one of the assisted reproductive therapies (ART) that help couples with subfertility issues, particularly those with mild male subfertility and unexplained infertility.

IUI Indication

Couples with the following problems are most suitable for IUI:

  1. Normal uterus and fallopian tubes in female
  2. Low sperm count or low motility
  3. Incompatibility of sperm and vulvar mucus
  4. Coital difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation

However, the fallopian tube of female should be normal in order to commence IUI.

IUI process

  • Avoid sexual intercourse for 2-3 days before IUI therapy.
  • Most practitioners would suggest ovarian stimulation combined with IUI which increases the success rate. Ovarian stimulation may produce up to 3 mature follicles, allowing greater chance for sperms to meet the egg.

The iui process will be performed

  1. Semen specimen collection: a semen specimen sample is best when collected in the morning after 2-3 days of abstinence.
  2. Sperm wash may be conducted if sperm count is low in male to enhance sperm quality.
  3. Patient preparation: vulva of the female patient would be cleaned and exposed for insemination.
  4. Insemination: a catheter is used to deliver sperms into the female’s uterus slowly, usually under ultrasound guidance. The slow injection takes about 1-1.5 minutes.

IUI success rate

IUI success rates vary among international studies, ranging from 5-70%, with a mean success rate of about 9%. This can be explained by different protocols adopted in clinics as well as the patients’ condition (age, chronic illnesses, etc.).

Most pregnancies in reported IUI studies occurred within 3-6 months. It is suggested that couples should opt for IVF after 6 months of IUI treatment failure.

IUI Risks / Possible Complications

  • Bleeding/ spotting
    Bleeding or spotting is often reported in IUI treatment, particularly those with a cervical tenaculum used.
  • Pain
    The procedure is a bit uncomfortable. If needed, local anesthesia may be used to eliminate discomfort.
  • Multiple pregnancy
    Multiple pregnancy is a common and major complication of assisted reproductive therapies. It poses both economic and sociological burden to the family.
  • Congenital defects of fetus
    All ART have reported risks of fetal congenital defects. However, some argue that these techniques allow sperms with gene defects to fertilize, which cannot be so normally. Same theory can be applied to oval abnormalities in women.

Fortunately, the risks of fetal congenital defects are not proven to be significant so far.

The information on this website is for general educational purpose only.
Readers should consult their physician before considering treatment, and should not interpret their condition solely based on the information above.