What is IUI, Intrauterine Insemination?

Following intercourse, the entire male ejaculate is normally deposited in the vagina. While a large proportion of the sperm are immediately destroyed, a few sperm survive and swim past the cervix, into the uterus and eventually into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. IUI is a type of artificial insemination in which there is the introduction of many motile (actively swimming) sperm, through the cervix and directly into the uterus.

Why is IUI Performed?

IUI increases the number of sperm arriving at the site of fertilization because a high concentration of sperm are deposited at the top of the uterus rather than in the vagina. Therefore, IUI can benefit couples where the male partner has decreased sperm count or decreased sperm motility. Thick cervical mucus or antisperm antibodies are additional indications for the use of IUI. In addition, the preparation of the ejaculate, prior to IUI, removes seminal plasma from the sperm cells. This plasma may, in some circumstances, contain infectious organisms or toxic substances that impair the fertility of the sperm cells. IUI is also utilized when couples are requesting donor sperm.

How is IUI Performed?

IUI may be performed in conjunction with ovulation induction medications such as clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins (superovulation). It may also be performed in a natural, non-stimulated cycle (with husbands or donor sperm). Clearly, IUI is optimally timed to a woman’s ovulation time. In a natural cycle, a urine ovulation detection (LH) kits is used to determine the day of insemination. When IUI is performed in conjunction with ovulation induction (clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins), the timing of IUI is determined by the type of medication used, ultrasounds of the ovarian egg follicles, and/or hormone levels in your blood. Fresh semen is obtained from the husband by masturbation (or from the donor sperm bank) and is processed in the Andrology Laboratory, which isolates and concentrates the most motile sperm while removing seminal plasma, white blood cells and other debris. The final sperm specimen is loaded in a slender plastic tube, which is then used for the insemination. The IUI is performed by our nursing staff in the office with the use of a vaginal speculum. Normally, the experience is similar to having a PAP smear.

What if We Need Donor Sperm?

All therapeutic donor insemination procedures at Fertility Associates of Memphis are performed under the guidelines outlined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American Academy of Tissue Banks. Prior to Therapeutic Donor Insemination (TDI), the couple will have tests to help with matching to a donor specimen as well as to screen for infectious diseases. The donor sperm is purchased through a number of commercial sperm banks. Fertility Associates of Memphis will only accept sperm from accredited banks with experience.

They include:

Xytex Sperm Bank


(800) 277-3210

California Cryobank


(800) 231-3373.

Seattle Sperm Bank


           (206) 588-1484

What Benefits Can Be Expected with IUI?

The success rates reported with IUI depend upon whether it is used alone or in conjunction with ovulation induction medications. It will also vary depending upon the couple’s diagnosis and the husband’s initial sperm count. Expected pregnancy rates per treatment cycle (month) are listed. These rates generally decline after the third or fourth attempt. If a pregnancy was not achieved; your doctor will recommend a different therapy to increase your chances of pregnancy. Donor insemination with cryopreserved sperm 10 to 15% Abnormal husband’s sperm count 4 to 8% Cervical mucus factors 10 to 15% Antisperm antibodies 10 to 15% Unexplained infertility with clomiphene citrate 5 to 10% Unexplained infertility with gonadotropins 15 to 20%

What Side Effects Can Be Expected?

Uterine cramping – This is minimized by sperm processing and the insemination of small volumes into the uterus. However, in certain patients where there is difficulty passing the catheter into the uterus, some transient uterine cramping may be experienced. This usually persists for the time period during the insemination and for approximately 5 to 10 minutes afterwards. Pelvic infection resulting from the insemination. – This small (less than 1 in 200) risk is further minimized by sperm processing. If the laboratory notices a significant amount of bacterial contamination within the sperm specimen, the physician and patient both will be notified and the proper course of action discussed.

What Does IUI Cost?

The cost of IUI will vary widely depending on additional procedures and medications.   Insurance coverage varies widely. You should consult with your specific plan to find out if coverage is offered. We will be happy to provide an estimated cost analysis of each procedure before you start.

Who Do I Contact for IUI?

Click here if you would like to schedule an appointment or if you have questions. You may receive information from one of our Physicians. About Our Staff – Fertility Associates of Memphis is composed of fertility specialists who have completed fellowship training, specializing in infertility. We have the only board-certified reproductive endocrinologists in Memphis who offer all types of assisted reproduction.