Artificial insemination (AI) is a fertility procedure in which treated sperm is inserted into a woman’s uterus directly, to improve the chances of conceiving.
AI involves the use of sperm that is either fresh (from the partner) or frozen (from the partner or a donor).
The method of AI most commonly used is Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI).
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IUI involves preparing or “washing” the sperm, which is then gently inserted into the uterine cavity using a speculum and a disposable catheter to bypass the cervix.
There are three IUI treatment options:
1. Natural Cycle Insemination – This option does not involve any medication and follows the woman’s natural menstrual cycle. It may be used for patients who are unable to have natural intercourse. It is not a successful method for women whose partners have poor sperm quality.
2. Clomiphene Citrate Ovulation Induction – This option involves the use of medication to stimulate the ovaries and cause or regulate ovulation. This medication in combination with IUI has been shown to increase pregnancy rates over natural cycle IUI.
3. FSH Ovulation Induction – Ovarian stimulation is stronger with this option and has been shown to increase pregnancy rates over natural cycle IUI and clomiphene citrate IUI. Regular monitoring of the patient is required to minimise complications relating to overstimulation.
The most recent studies have suggested that the best pregnancy results are achieved using the clomiphene citrate or FSH treatments.
The technique of sperm preparation or “washing” involves separation of the seminal plasma from the spermatozoa and concentration of the more morphologically normal and motile sperm for insemination.
The actual insemination is quite simple and painless – many women describe it as being similar to a Pap smear. The entire procedure takes just a few minutes.
Your treating specialist or a fertility coordinator usually performs the insemination procedure, and male partners are welcome to attend. Normal daily activities can be resumed immediately afterwards.
Your pregnancy test should be performed about two weeks after the insemination. It is important to look after yourself in that time.
The time between the insemination and your pregnancy test is often emotionally charged with expectation and anxiety. We understand that this can be a difficult time and encourage you to contact your clinic for support if you are finding it especially hard to deal with the stress of waiting.
If the procedure is unsuccessful, we encourage you to have a follow-up appointment with your fertility specialist. At this appointment, plans for further treatment can be made and any questions answered.
After three unsuccessful IUI attempts, it is recommended that consideration be given to an In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) cycle after consultation with your treating specialist.
Artificial Insemination or IUI is recommended for couples experiencing any of the following:
IUI can also be recommended in cases where a woman or couple needs donor sperm.
Donor sperm is needed in cases where the husband/partner:
Donor sperm is also used for Donor Insemination (DI) cycles for single women or same-sex couples. Please read our Donor Insemination Fact Sheet to learn more about this treatment option, or visit our Using Sperm From a Sperm Donor page for further information.
Artificial Insemination or IUI treatment is not recommended for:
As each treatment cycle is structured to suit individual needs, costs will vary between patients depending on the level of service required. For more details on exact fees and other information relating to the IUI procedure or any other fertility treatment option, please contact City Fertility Centre fertility coordinators.
It is important to note that many couples are hesitant to consider IVF due to cost restraints and hence favour IUI as a first option.
Realistically, though, the difference in out-of-pocket expenses for a number of IUI treatments, with a pregnancy success rate of 5-10% per cycle, compared with the out-of-pocket expenses for one cycle of IVF, which has a higher success rate per cycle, is minimal. It may, therefore, be worth considering IVF as a first option, depending on individual circumstances. This can be discussed with your specialist or City Fertility Centre scientific staff.
To find out more about Artificial Insemination – IUI, please read our IUI Using Partner’s Sperm Fact Sheet, Donor Insemination Fact Sheet or visit our Patient Information Booklets page and download the Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) PDF.