Why it's done

A couple's ability to become pregnant depends on many different factors. Intrauterine insemination is used most often in couples who have:

  • Donor sperm. For women who need to use donor sperm to get pregnant, IUI is most commonly used to achieve pregnancy. Frozen donor sperm specimens are obtained from certified labs and thawed before the IUI procedure.
  • Unexplained infertility. IUI is often performed as a first treatment for unexplained infertility along with ovulation-inducing medications.
  • Endometriosis-related infertility. For infertility related to endometriosis, using medications to obtain a good quality egg along with performing IUI is often the first treatment approach.
  • Mild male factor infertility (subfertility). Your partner's semen analysis, one of the first steps in the medical assessment of infertility, may show below-average sperm concentration, weak movement (motility) of sperm, or abnormalities in sperm size and shape (morphology). IUI can overcome some of these problems because preparing sperm for the procedure helps separate highly motile, normal sperm from those of lower quality.
  • Cervical factor infertility. Your cervix, at the lower end of the uterus, provides the opening between your vagina and uterus. Mucus produced by the cervix around the time of ovulation provides an ideal environment for sperm to travel from your vagina to the fallopian tubes. But, if your cervical mucus is too thick, it may impede the sperm's journey. IUI bypasses the cervix, depositing sperm directly into your uterus and increasing the number of sperm available to meet the awaiting egg.
  • Semen allergy. Rarely, a woman could have an allergy to proteins in her partner's semen. Ejaculation into the vagina causes redness, burning and swelling where the semen contacts the skin. A condom can protect you from the symptoms, but it also prevents pregnancy. If your sensitivity is severe, IUI can be effective, since many of the semen proteins are removed before the sperm is inserted.
June 21, 2016
References
  1. Treating infertility. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Treating-Infertility. Accessed April 7, 2016.
  2. Infertility FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Infertility/. Accessed April 7, 2016.
  3. Infertility fact sheet. Womenshealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/infertility.html. Accessed April 8, 2016.
  4. Ginsburg ES. Procedure for intrauterine insemination (IUI) using processed sperm. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 8, 2016.
  5. Intrauterine insemination (IUI). ReproductiveFacts.org. http://www.reproductivefacts.org/awards/detail.aspx?id=8576 Accessed April 18, 2016.
  6. Luco SM, et al. The evaluation of pre and post processing semen analysis parameters at the time of intrauterine insemination in couples diagnosed with male factor infertility and pregnancy rates based on stimulation agent. A retrospective cohort study. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology. 2014;179:159.
  7. Hornstein MD, et al. Unexplained infertility. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2016.
  8. Coddington III CC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 18, 2016.