Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
If you’ve stumbled on this page, you might be deciding whether Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is right for you. If that’s the case, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about IUI.
What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) — a type of artificial insemination — is a non-surgical fertility treatment in which a healthcare professional injects sperm into a woman’s uterus.
IUI aims to improve a woman’s chances of fertilization by increasing the number of healthy sperm that reach her fallopian tubes. IUI can be performed with a male partner’s sperm or donor sperm.
Who needs an IUI procedure?
IUI is often recommended for couples who are unable to conceive naturally.
IUI may be helpful for:
- women who are unable to have vaginal sex due to a physical disability
- women who are unable to ovulate due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or hypothalamic dysfunction
- couples with unexplained infertility
- male partners with minor semen abnormalities (low sperm count, low sperm motility, etc.), ejaculatory dysfunction, or erectile dysfunction
- same-sex couples interested in starting a family
- single women wishing to conceive
How much does the IUI procedure cost?
IUI is a very common fertility treatment. That said, IUI costs vary depending on a person’s location, insurance coverage, and fertility clinic.
On average, in the U.S., one IUI cycle could cost anywhere between $300 and $4,000 without insurance. Additional out-of-pocket costs may include fertility medications, lab testing, and imaging/ultrasounds.
Insurance coverage of fertility services varies by state. Some states require insurance companies to provide infertility benefits with “mandate to cover” laws, others do not.
IUI Risks & Possible Side Effects
While IUI is a relatively low-risk procedure, there are some risks involved.
Potential risks IUI include:
- multiple pregnancies
- ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
The most common side effects of IUI are mild cramping and spotting.
What are the chances of twins or triplets with IUI?
Clomid (clomiphene citrate) and Femara (letrozole), for example, are ovulation-stimulating medications that are often given to women undergoing IUI. These drugs help the body produce multiple eggs — the only caveat is that two or more may release simultaneously, producing multiple implantations.
Gonadotropins (injectable follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH) help stimulate the growth of egg follicles. Sometimes, fertility specialists combine IUI with gonadotropin injections, which can lead to multiple implantations. In fact, according to ASRM, up to 30% of women who use injectable medications may have a multiple gestation. This is why careful monitoring with ultrasound and bloodwork is required.
Will I need multiple IUIs to become pregnant?
If a woman cannot conceive after IUI, they may be asked to repeat the procedure or undergo a more invasive treatment, such as IVF. Some specialists recommend undergoing three rounds or cycles before considering IVF.
In one 2018 study, researchers concluded that couples undergoing double insemination or double IUI practice within a cycle have a better chance of becoming pregnant than those who undergo single insemination.
The Intrauterine Insemination Procedure
IUI is a quick and easy procedure. It typically takes 15–20 minutes from start to finish and can be performed in a doctor’s office or fertility clinic.
How should I prepare for an IUI Cycle?
Before the IUI procedure, couples are required to undergo a thorough medical exam and fertility tests.
This may include:
- pelvic exam
- STI screening
- blood tests (hormone testing, genetic testing)
- hysterosalpingogram or HSG (X-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes)
- Semen analysis
Couples using the male partner’s sperm may be asked to avoid ejaculation for at least two days before the insemination.
There’s also a bit of sperm prep involved in the IUI process.
Couples using the male partner’s sperm will be asked to provide a semen sample prior to IUI treatment. This is done at the fertility clinic on the same day of the IUI procedure.
Once the sperm sample is collected, it goes through a process called sperm washing. This means the sperm is filtered (separated from the seminal fluid) to produce a high-quality sperm sample.
Couples using a sperm donor will not need to provide a sperm sample as the clinic will already have it ready for insemination.
How is an IUI procedure done?
Here’s what to expect during an IUI procedure step by step:
- A healthcare professional will ask the patient to lie on an exam table with her legs in stirrups. They’ll then insert a speculum into the patient’s vagina. This part is very similar to a Pap smear.
- Once the patient is in position, the healthcare professional will attach a small vial containing a sperm sample to the end of a long, thin tube (catheter). They’ll then insert the catheter into the patient’s vagina through the cervix and into the uterus.
- The sperm sample is pushed through the tube and into the uterus, and the catheter and speculum are removed.
There’s no downtime or recovery period for IUI. However, some patients may have light spotting or cramping for one-to-two days following the procedure
Is IUI painful?
IUI is a quick and painless outpatient procedure for many, though some patients may experience mild cramping during and immediately after insemination.
When do you know IUI is successful?
It can take up to two weeks for a person to know whether or not they’re pregnant following an IUI procedure.
Once two weeks have passed, the patient will be asked to take a pregnancy test. If positive, the doctor will ask the patient to come in for bloodwork to confirm the pregnancy.
IUI vs. IVF: Differences Between Fertility Treatments
IUI is the first-line treatment for unexplained infertility in women under the age of 35. In contrast, IVF is recommended after a few failed IUI attempts or in women who are 40 or older.
Unlike IUI, IVF involves a series of steps, including egg stimulation, retrieval, fertilization, and transfer.
Scheduling an IUI Procedure
Couples who’ve been trying to get pregnant without success should contact a fertility specialist to discuss possible treatment options. They’ll be able to explain the pros and cons of each fertility treatment in detail.
A Word From RMA Network
If you and/or you and your partner are struggling to conceive, get support and talk to an RMA Network doctor today. We’ll be able to steer you in the right direction and provide comfort and guidance to help you decide which treatment option is best for you.