A blue shape representing an embryo


Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of fertility treatment that involves placing a large number of sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chances that the sperm and egg will meet. IUI may be performed together with ovulation induction to ensure an egg is present in the female reproductive tract at the same time as the sperm, giving you an improved chance of pregnancy.

What kind of fertility issues can IUI overcome?

For successful conception to occur, sperm must travel through the female’s reproductive tract to meet and fertilise an egg. There are several factors that may hinder this process and make it difficult for a couple to fall pregnant, including:

  • Difficulties with sexual intercourse, e.g. pain due to endometriosis
  • Male factor infertility, e.g. mild sperm abnormalities such as below-average sperm concentration, weak movement of sperm, or abnormalities in sperm size and shape
  • Cervical factor infertility (the cervix is the area where the uterus connects to the vagina; the production of abnormally thick cervical mucus here may prevent the passage of sperm into the uterus, as can scarring of the cervix caused by a previous biopsy or other procedures)
  • Ovulatory factor infertility, e.g. an absence of ovulation or a reduced number of eggs
  • Unexplained infertility (you can learn more about unexplained infertility here).

Additionally, patients may opt to use IUI, rather than IVF, when using donor sperm to conceive.

How does IUI work?

In intrauterine insemination, large numbers of processed and concentrated sperm are placed high up in the woman’s uterus. This overcomes a number of fertility issues that may be preventing sperm from reaching the egg, thus increasing the chances of successful conception and pregnancy.

Intrauterine insemination is a simple, relatively low-cost procedure. As such, where suitable, some couples may opt to trial IUI prior to more expensive and/or invasive fertility treatments like IVF. IUI may also be used to introduce donor sperm into the reproductive tract when there are no issues with the woman’s fertility (a sperm donor is simply required for conception), or when the male partner’s sperm has had to be frozen (e.g. preceding cancer treatment or other medical treatments that have the potential to cause infertility).

If there are potential issues with the female partner’s ovulation, we may recommend that intrauterine insemination is performed together with ovulation induction. Ovulation induction is also a simple process whereby medication is administered (orally or by injection) to induce the ovaries to release an egg. This increases the likelihood that an egg is present in the woman’s reproductive tract at the same time the sperm are introduced, increasing the chances of pregnancy.

What does the intrauterine insemination process involve?

If fresh sperm is used for intrauterine insemination, it is firstly collected from the male partner. The collected sperm is then processed in our laboratory to remove any unnecessary fluid and immotile sperm, and to concentrate the sperm. During this process, the sample is also examined to ensure we select only the healthiest sperm for insemination. If frozen sperm is used for intrauterine insemination, additional processes are required to thaw the sperm first.

IUI is performed as a day procedure at our Box Hill treatment centre. Your procedure will be scheduled to coincide with ovulation. This is ensured by triggering ovulation with a hCG injection, which guarantees ovulation 38 hours afterwards. The procedure is booked accordingly.

The procedure used to introduce the sperm to the uterus is quick and simple. A speculum is inserted into the vagina, and a 1mm tube is inserted through the opening of the uterus to deposit sperm high up in the woman’s uterus. This procedure feels similar to a pap test – it takes a few minutes only, there’s no use of anaesthetic, and you can promptly resume your day following the procedure.

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Get in touch

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our fertility doctors, please call (03) 8080 8933 or email [email protected]. Fertility appointments can also be booked via our online booking page.

Our three Melbourne clinics are based in Box Hill, Clayton and East Melbourne and are open Monday–Friday: 8:00am–5:00pm. We welcome patients from all over Victoria, as well as those seeking care interstate or internationally. All fertility treatment requiring day surgery or lab access (e.g. egg collection, embryo transfer) will take place at our state-of-the-art treatment centre in Box Hill. Fertility consultations and IVF cycle monitoring can be arranged at all three Melbourne clinics.

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