Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that allows prepared sperm to be introduced into the womb. It is less invasive than IVF. In the laboratory, a sample of sperm is processed to separate the motile sperm from the immotile sperm. This allows us to concentrate the motile sperm ready for the insemination procedure. The prepared sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb near the time of ovulation. This fertility method is designed to help women who are struggling to conceive naturally.

Intrauterine insemination may be right for you if:

  • You are struggling to conceive naturally
  • You suffer from ovulation problems
  • Your infertility is unexplained
  • You suffer from cervical mucous hostility
  • You suffer from mild endometriosis (a condition where the lining of the womb grows outside the womb)

  • You have mild anti-sperm antibodies (these occur when the body becomes sensitised to sperm, causing an immune system response that destroys the sperm)
  • You are trying to conceive through donated sperm

Intrauterine insemination involves preparing semen in a laboratory to select only the highest quality sperm for insemination. The treated semen is then introduced into the womb just before ovulation and can be used with either natural ovulation or in conjunction with medication or injectables such as follicle-stimulating hormone to induce ovulation.

How is intrauterine insemination performed?

Once the man has provided a sperm sample, it is then filtered (or ‘washed’) to ensure that only high quality, motile sperm are used for the procedure. This process means that it’s a good treatment for couples where the male may suffer from a low sperm count or poor sperm mobility.

If the man is unable to produce sperm, or the treatment is for a single woman or same sex couple, donor sperm is also suitable.

During the procedure, the treated semen is passed directly into the woman’s womb using a catheter. The process is largely painless, although some women report experiencing mild cramping similar to period pain. The process generally takes 10 minutes and does not require and sedation.

Success rates vary depending on age, reasons for infertility, and overall health.

The Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has an outstanding IUI success rate

Our IUI success rates are outstanding when compared to the national average. We advise that you read through our success rates pages and the HFEA website to get an idea of the different ways the statistics could be produced. Success rates vary according to age, health, and reason for infertility.

Our success rates are due to the expert care delivered by the team, ongoing monitoring and experienced healthcare professionals in fertility.

How does intrauterine insemination work?

Intrauterine insemination involves three main stages:

  • Stimulating ovaries – Injections of fertility drugs may be prescribed to increase the number of follicles produced in any one cycle.

  • Monitoring egg development – Follicle growth is monitored by ultrasound scan. About three scans are carried out per cycle. This allows follicle growth to be monitored and the best time of insemination can be planned.

  • Transferring prepared sperm sample – Your partner will be asked to produce a semen sample at the hospital about two hours before the procedure. This is then prepared for insemination. If donor sperm is being used, the sample will be taken from frozen storage.

When donor sperm is used during any assisted conception technique, recommendations from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) are followed.

The IUI procedure is very simple and you will be able to leave the hospital a short time afterwards. The process involves passing a fine catheter through the cervix into the uterus where the prepared sperm are then slowly introduced.