The Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Process
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the process whereby a concentrated specimen of sperm is placed in the uterus. For this procedure, a speculum is inserted into the vagina and the cervix is visualized. A soft, thin catheter is then placed through the cervix and into the uterus. The washed sperm is then introduced into the uterus through this catheter. The procedure is done in the office and takes 1-2 minutes. It is not painful and does not require anesthesia.
The sperm sample is specially prepared in the andrology laboratory. The procedure is commonly known as “sperm washing”. This involves placing the sperm sample in a test tube and then a centrifuge. This results in the sperm collecting in a “pellet” at the bottom of the test tube. The seminal fluid is removed and fluid (media) is placed above the sperm. The most active sperm will then swim up into the media. The final sample consists of the most active sperm in a small volume of media. A single IUI is usually performed when a fresh sperm sample is used. Two IUIs on consecutive days are usually performed if a frozen sample is used.
Timing the Insemination
The timing of the insemination is not critical to the exact time of ovulation. Both the sperm and the egg remain viable in the female genital tract for many hours, so the insemination may be done within a window of several hours around the time of ovulation. Following the IUI, daily supplemental progesterone is given, usually in the form of a vaginal suppository, to support implantation and early embryo growth.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please speak with one of our friendly New Patient Liaisons by calling 888-761-1967.