What you need to know about Artificial insemination (IUI)

Artificial Insemination attempts to increase your chances of pregnancy in a way that’s less invasive than IVF. It’s good to learn a little about it as it could be the first step on your fertility journey.

The most commonly used Artificial Insemination technique is called IUI – or Intrauterine Insemination, to use the full description. For this treatment, hormones can be used to stimulate the ovaries and help multiple follicles to mature, or the treatment can be done without hormonal stimulation.

Through bloodwork and ultrasounds, ovulation is monitored to pinpoint the best moment for insemination. Then a sperm sample is examined and treated in a laboratory before it’s inserted into the uterus.

Let’s look at those two steps in more detail:

Step 1: The ovaries are stimulated (if required)

Stimulation allows as many follicles to develop as possible, increasing the chances of fertilisation. The dose levels of the stimulant are low and the medication is easy to administer because it is usually given subcutaneously, much like insulin for diabetic patients. Follicle growth will be monitored by periodic vaginal ultrasound scans and hormone levels will be checked via blood tests. This medication and monitoring stage usually lasts from 10 to 12 days while doctors wait to see follicles grow to the perfect size and hormone levels surge, indicating the best time for insemination.

Step 2: Insemination occurs

Once the follicles have reached the ideal size, an HCG injection (short for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is sometimes used to trigger the final stage of maturation and ovulation. The timing here is quite precise. 36 hours after that injection, insemination will take place at the clinic. First, a sperm sample is given from a partner or a donor and is examined by the laboratory. Nonviable, weak, or slow-moving sperm are removed, meaning only the best remain. This is great for increasing the odds of fertilisation. The sperm is put into a special thin catheter and inserted past the cervix close to the tubes. This means the sperm don’t have to work quite as hard to get where they’re going as they would have to naturally. The process itself is simple and painless. No special interventions are needed, and the whole thing can be done in an exam room. Afterward, you can continue on with your day as you normally would.

Now that you know more about IUI, you can reach out to your doctor to see if it’s the right option for you. First your doctor will help you figure out if your fallopian tubes are open without blockages. They will also help make sure that the sperm has gotten good marks on its semen analysis. Meaning the motility, volume, and morphology are at normal levels. These are all big decisions, but we’re here to help make sure you have all of the guidance and support you need to make them confidently.