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