Reproductive Assistance: Intrauterine Insemination

What Is It?

Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is a common form of artificial insemination (AI). {AI refers to techniques used to introduce sperm into a woman's body through means other than sexual intercourse.} IUI is relatively less invasive than some other assisted reproductive technology (ART), which is one of the reasons that physicians often will offer IUI as a treatment before IVF and other techniques.

IUI is performed in a series of steps:

  • A woman's cycle is, with or without medication, monitored so that her time of ovulation is apparent.
  • A sperm sample is obtained from either the male partner or donor. The sample has optimally been through a process referred to as "sperm washing".
  • Sperm sample is then inserted into woman's uterus via a catheter through her cervix.

The goal is to place as many active, well-formed sperm as close to the ovulated egg as possible, thereby increasing their chances of meeting. For some of the best patient-focused information on this procedure, see the FertilityPlus IUI FAQ which also includes a list of journal references up to 1996.