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Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a relatively simple fertility treatment. It may be done with or without fertility drugs. The procedure itself involves transferring semen that has been washed and concentrated directly into the uterus via a thin catheter. IUI is done around the time of ovulation or in conjunction with fertility drugs to maximize the likelihood of conception

IUI is used to treat many types of infertility and is often done in multiple cycles until pregnancy is achieved—or another treatment is tried. IUI is often the first procedure tried before moving on to more invasive options, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Some insurance companies require a few cycles of IUI before paying for IVF.

Cycles of IUI may be recommended to treat any of the following infertility situations

  • Hostile cervical mucus
  • If a sperm donor is being used
  • If sexual pain makes intercourse not possible
  • If treatment with fertility drugs alone is not successful
  • Male infertility
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Previous pelvic infection
  • Severe endometriosis

IUI has helped many women become pregnant, but it doesn't always work. In cycles where fertility drugs and IUI were combined, the pregnancy success rate can reach as high as 20%. These are per-cycle rates, meaning that the success odds are higher when looking at multiple cycles together. Often, it is recommended to commit to trying IUI for a minimum of three cycles.

Your personal success rate will vary depending on the cause of your infertility, the quality of the sperm you are using, and your age.

Deciding whether or not to pursue IUI is a personal choice. Though IVF success rates per cycle are much higher, IUI is significantly less expensive. The procedure is also easier and less invasive. If IVF is out of your price range, multiple IUI cycles might be the better choice, depending on the cause of your infertility.

Understand that while IUI can help you conceive, it also may not result in pregnancy. Be sure to tend to the emotional impact of infertility treatments while you consider your next steps. Speak to your doctor to understand all of your options to help you decide what's right for you.