How Does Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Work?

Jul 01, 2023
How Does Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Work?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) uses special techniques to address both female and male infertility issues to help couples conceive. Here’s how IUI works and what to expect during and after an IUI treatment.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant and you haven’t been successful, it can feel like you’re all alone in your struggle. But infertility is actually very common — a lot more common than many couples realize. In the United States alone, roughly 20% of married women of childbearing age struggle with infertility.

Still, while there may be some comfort in knowing that others are dealing with the same issues and frustrations, it doesn’t help you reach your goal of conceiving. Fortunately, today many treatments can help, including intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Richard Roberts, MD, is a top-rated, trusted provider of IUI treatment for patients at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe in Conroe, Texas. In this post, he offers an overview of IUI to help you decide if it’s an option you’d like to explore.

Quick facts about infertility

Infertility is generally defined as being unable to get pregnant despite one year of actively trying. Since fertility naturally declines with age, you might consider seeking infertility treatment after six months if you’re over age 35.

Infertility can happen for lots of reasons. To get pregnant, the following steps need to occur:

  • An ovary needs to release an egg
  • Sperm needs to find and fertilize the egg
  • The fertilized egg must make its way from the fallopian tube to the uterus
  • The egg must attach to the uterus (a process called implantation)

A problem with any of these steps can result in infertility.

Lifestyle factors can also affect fertility. Older age, weight, substance abuse issues, and even chronic stress can all contribute to infertility, as can some underlying medical conditions.

How IUI works

IUI uses special techniques to place sperm inside your uterus while you’re ovulating (or about to ovulate). Sometimes, we use IUI alongside another technique that promotes ovulation (a technique called ovulation stimulation). 

Once inside your uterus, sperm are free to travel up the fallopian tube where they may meet with and fertilize an egg. Sperm may be from your partner or a donor, making IUI a good option for both female and male fertility issues.

Before your appointment

Before your visit, we carefully wash the sperm to remove any substances that could interfere with fertilization. Washing also separates the active sperm from sperm that are less mobile, increasing the chances that fertilization will occur. 

We also ask you to monitor for signs of ovulation so the sperm are implanted at the most opportune time. Over-the-counter ovulation kits can help you look for signs of ovulation, or Dr. Roberts may use diagnostic imaging instead. If you have problems with ovulation, Dr. Roberts might suggest using medications to stimulate ovulation.

What to expect during and after IUI

We perform IUI right in our office in a simple procedure that typically takes about 15-20 minutes. The actual implantation portion of your visit takes just a couple of minutes.

The procedure begins in the same way as a pelvic exam: You lie on the exam table with your feet in the stirrups, and Dr. Roberts inserts a lubricated speculum. Next, he inserts a long, thin tube or catheter into your uterus. The catheter is attached to a vial containing the sperm.

Once the end of the catheter is in position, Dr. Roberts releases the sperm solution into the vagina. Then, he removes the catheter and speculum, and you stay lying down for a brief period. Afterward, you can go back to your regular routine. A little spotting and mild cramping are common for a day or two afterward.

Compassionate, patient-centered fertility treatment

Dr. Roberts and his team understand the emotional toll infertility can take on both partners. At his practice, he offers an array of fertility treatment options to help couples successfully conceive. 

To learn more about IUI and other fertility treatments, call 936-756-7788 or book an appointment online with the team at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe today.