Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a low key treatment that can be effective for cases of unexplained infertility or mild male factor. It is also the preferred method for treatment with frozen-thawed donor sperm. The overall success rates are not high, but for selected conditions, such as cervical mucus hostility, mild male factor including anti sperm antibodies and low motility it can be quite successful. If your menstrual cycles are irregular or prolonged Mr Lower will usually recommend ovarian stimulation using letrozole or clomiphene.

Mr Lower encourages couples to try naturally from about day 8 or 10 of the cycle and to use a urine ovulation predictor kit. He does this for 2 reasons, firstly in case the day of ovulation is missed. Secondly the semen sample usually improves after 2 or 3 ejaculations rather than abstaining in the hope of improving the sperm count.

On the day of the LH surge indicating peak fertility the male partner will come to the lab and produce a sample of sperm, which is washed and prepared to achieve a small volume of about 1ml of culture medium with a few million sperm present. This process takes about an hour and the sample is then injected high into the uterine cavity. This is usually uncomfortable rather than painful and certainly no worse than having a smear test performed.

Mr Lower usually recommends performing the insemination during an ultrasound monitored cycle to more accurately identify when ovulation occurs.

Further information is available about IUI on the HFEA website here