What's Involved With an IUI?

Can an IUI Help Me Get Pregnant?

To become pregnant, a man's sperm must travel through the cervix (the narrow, lower part of the uterus), into the uterus, and up into one of the fallopian tubes. If the sperm arrives in the fallopian tubes near the time an egg is released (ovulation), the sperm may fertilize the egg. However, many problems can prevent this process from occurring in some couples. These problems can affect both men and women.
An IUI can help pregnancy become a reality in women who have certain problems, such as:
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Cervical mucus problems
  • Cervical scarring that prevents the sperm from entering the uterus.
In some cases, women who do not ovulate regularly can take medications by mouth or as an injection to help them ovulate. These women have an increased chance of getting pregnant if they also have an IUI.
In addition, an IUI can be helpful when the male partner has a low sperm count or if the movement of the sperm (motility) is not ideal. Also, an IUI can be helpful for couples when the male has problems developing an erection or is unable to ejaculate.
For example, some men may have a condition called retrograde ejaculation, which occurs when the sperm are released backward into the bladder instead of through the penis at the time of orgasm. In this case, sperm can be taken from the urine and used for IUI. An IUI can also be helpful for men who have an abnormal urethral opening (opening of the penis).
An IUI can be used for men who have cryopreserved (frozen) their sperm for future use prior to having a vasectomy, testicular surgery, or radiation/chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Some men may also choose to donate their sperm for donor insemination. Using donor sperm may be necessary if a woman's male partner has sperm quality that is so severely damaged that it shouldn't be used for conception and in vitro fertilization is not an option.
Using donor sperm via an IUI is also an option if the woman's male partner has a certain genetic disease that they do not want to pass along to their children. Single women or same-sex couples may also use donor sperm for an IUI.
There are a number of situations where an IUI may increase your chances for pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can help go over a fertility workup with you and your partner if you are trying to figure out whether an IUI is right for your situation. If he or she recommends an IUI procedure, it's important to understand what's involved with this process.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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