What's Involved With an IUI?

Collecting and Preparing the Sperm Sample

The sperm needed for an IUI can be collected in a number of ways. If you are using your partner's sperm for insemination, he will produce a specimen at home or (preferably) in the healthcare provider's office, usually by masturbating into a glass or plastic cup that is provided by your healthcare provider's office. Sperm can also be collected during sex using a special condom that your healthcare provider gives you. If your partner has retrograde ejaculation, the sperm can be retrieved in the laboratory from urine your partner has collected.
If a man has problems ejaculating even with the help of medications or has a spinal cord injury, he may be able to use vibratory stimulation or electroejaculation. Vibratory stimulation involves using a handheld vibratory device, while electroejaculation uses electrical stimulation to help produce a sperm specimen.
If your partner has a complete spinal cord injury, electroejaculation is often performed in your healthcare provider's office. Those who have an incomplete spinal cord injury may need to have the electroejaculation procedure done under anesthesia in the operating room.
The sperm specimen is then prepared for the IUI. This involves a process where the sperm are "washed," which separates out motile sperm from the man's ejaculate and concentrates them into a small volume. The process of washing the sperm can take up to two hours to complete.
If using donor sperm, the sperm bank sends the sperm that is already prepared for an IUI to your healthcare provider's office.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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