Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves sperm being placed into the womb through a fine plastic tube. Sperm is collected and washed in a fluid. The best quality specimens (the fastest moving) are selected.
The sperm are passed through a tube that enters the cervix and extends into the womb. This procedure is performed to coincide with ovulation, to increase the chance of conception. The woman may also be given a low dose of ovary stimulating hormones to increase the likelihood of conception.
Some women may experience temporary cramps, similar to period cramps, after or during IUI, but other than that, the procedure should be painless.
Availability and success
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should be offered up to six cycles of IUI if:
- you are unable (or would find it very difficult) to have vaginal intercourse – for example, due to 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
- you are in a same-sex relationship
The availability of this fertility treatment on the NHS varies throughout the UK. In some areas, the waiting list for treatment can be very long. The criteria that must be met to be eligible for treatment can also vary.
Provided that the man's sperm and the woman's tubes are healthy, the success rate for IUI in women under 35 is around 15% for each cycle of treatment.
For those considering co-parenting or using a known donor to conceive, some may consider home insemination. This is a form of artificial insemination (AI) whereby the sperm is placed into the vigina near the cervix using a syringe or pastette, in the comfort of your own home.
Read more about Home insemination.