Intrauterine insemination

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of artificial insemination in which sperm is placed inside the womb. Another type of artificial insemination is intracervical insemination (ICI), where sperm is placed at the cervix (the neck of the womb).

If you are using ICI you have a higher chance of pregnancy if you use fresh sperm (that has not previously been frozen). However, IUI gives you a higher chance of pregnancy than ICI even if previously frozen then thawed sperm is used.

You may be offered IUI if:

  • you and your partner are unable (or find it very difficult) to have sexual intercourse, for example because of a physical disability

  • you have a condition (such as a viral infection that can be sexually transmitted) that means you need specific help to conceive – for example, if you are having sperm washing before conception can take place

  • you are in a same‑sex relationship and have not become pregnant after 6 cycles of artificial insemination.

You should be offered unstimulated IUI, which means that you are not given fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries during treatment. You should have your insemination timed around ovulation to give you the best chance of success.

If you do not become pregnant after 6 cycles of IUI, you should be offered fertility tests. If your test results are normal, you should be offered another 6 cycles of IUI before other treatments, such as IVF, are considered.

When intrauterine insemination should not be offered

You and your partner should not usually be offered IUI in the following circumstances because it has not been found to increase your chances of getting pregnant:

  • unexplained infertility

  • a low sperm count or poor‑quality sperm

  • mild endometriosis.

In these circumstances, you should be advised to keep trying to conceive through regular unprotected sexual intercourse for a total of 2 years (this can include 1 year of trying before you had your fertility tests). After this time you may be offered IVF.

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