Artificial Insemination (Intrauterine Insemination, IUI)
One of the treatment procedures that your Generations doctor may recommend to help you become pregnant is artificial insemination. The more specific term is intrauterine insemination or IUI. We also combine IUI with medication that stimulates ovulation, called ovulation induction (OI).
This assistive reproductive technique is one of the first methods a woman may undergo when natural conception has not been successful. Very often, it's the only one needed to become pregnant. The rate of pregnancy success from IUI can depend on many factors, including whether or not fertility drugs are used, a woman's age and the overall infertility diagnosis.
Our fertility specialists and certified nursing staff are experienced in this procedure. Not only do you receive highly skilled medical treatment, we know how to make the experience more comfortable for you and your partner. From our spa-like surroundings, custom laboratory to emotional support —you'll be cared for with excellence and sensitivity through every step of your journey.
What is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can help a woman become pregnant by placing sperm inside the uterus via a thin tube or catheter that goes through the vagina and past the cervix. Sperm can come from a male partner or a donor. The procedure takes place in our office and you go home the same day. Once inside the uterus, the sperm fertilizes the egg in the woman's body as in natural conception.
How does IUI help fertility?
IUI increases the chance for pregnancy in two ways:
- It bypasses any problems in the cervical mucus or the cervix itself, which sometimes can be the cause of infertility.
- It greatly increases the number of sperm that reach the egg. When we process a sperm sample in our lab, it can increase the concentration of sperm as much as 20 times. This can help overcome a low sperm count to increase the chance for fertilization.
IUI is a good option for women whose male partner has:
- Azoospermia (the absence of sperm)
- Low sperm count
- A genetic condition that you choose to avoid passing on to the child
For many couples the specific cause of infertility cannot be determined, and IUI can be a good option for them.
Why combine IUI with fertility drug treatment?
We recommend that IUI be combined with medication that stimulates ovulation, called ovulation induction (OI). While some patients prefer to either take oral medication or have IUI, our research shows that using both treatments in combination - IUI with OI - is the most cost effective.
Our studies have shown that a single cycle of oral medication to induce ovulation combined with IUI is more likely to result in the birth of a baby than two cycles of oral medication with ultrasound or two cycles of IUI (without OI) - at a comparable cost.
Rather than starting with medicine that stimulates ovulation, and then later trying IUI, we proceed directly with oral medication in combination with IUI when natural conception has not been successful.
How does ovulation induction (OI) help during IUI?
These OI medicines, often called fertility drugs, enhance a woman's oocyte (egg cell) production. A woman takes the medicine one to two weeks before the IUI procedure. The drug can increase the number of eggs your ovaries release from one (or none) to up to three.
In some situations, the woman may also receive an injection of hCG to increase the number of oocytes even more. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) also helps the egg to mature, making it more likely to be fertilized by a sperm.
With more eggs available at the time of the IUI procedure, the likelihood of pregnancy increases. We carefully balance maximizing the chance for pregnancy with the risk of multiple pregnancies by using ultrasound to determine how many oocytes are developing and the best time for IUI. We also monitor for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a relatively rare risk with IUI.
What happens during the intrauterine insemination procedure?
Several steps are involved the day of your IUI procedure.
- The patient's partner comes to our office at a scheduled time (about 90 minutes before the insemination) to produce a sperm sample in a private collection room. The sample could be produced at home and brought in, but the faster our lab can process the fresh sample, the better it is for the sperm. Ideally, the sperm should be processed within 30 minutes to an hour from collection.
- If the sperm sample comes from a donor, the sample will be thawed and then processed.
- Our lab processes the sperm sample to increase the available sperm and the chance for conception.
- The setup of the insemination is similar to a Pap smear. The doctor cleans your cervix with a cotton swab and places a small catheter (about the diameter of a coffee straw) into the vagina and past the cervix so that the sperm goes into the uterus. The procedure causes little or no pain and only takes a few minutes.
- After the catheter and the speculum are removed, you recline on the exam table for 10-15 minutes. This period of lying down actually improves pregnancy rates. However, research shows no additional benefit by resting longer than that time. You return to normal activities once you leave the office. The total time you'll spend in our office will range from 30 minutes to two hours.
- You may experience some cramping and light vaginal bleeding after the procedure. Most women do not experience any additional symptoms.
- After two weeks, you take a pregnancy test at home. Hopefully, it's positive!
How much does IUI cost?
Cost for IUI can vary and is based on your specific needs. To give you an idea, the average cost at Generations without insurance coverage and not including medications runs between $460 and $1,500. That cost includes ultrasound monitoring, if necessary.
We will provide a detailed cost estimate based on your particular fertility goals and challenges. You can learn more about cost on our Financial Information page.
Find Out More
If you'd like to find out if IUI might be an option for you, please call Generations Fertility Care at (608) 824-6160 for a consultation or schedule an appointment by completing our online form.