Artificial insemination (AI) is the name given to a procedure where sperm are placed into the female reproductive system by means other than intercourse. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the most common form of AI used. Only doctors can perform AI under the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008, although a person is not prevented from performing self-insemination.
IUI is mainly used for:
IUI can be performed during a natural cycle or in combination with ovulation induction (OI). The procedure is done at or immediately prior to ovulation. The sperm is prepared in the lab to obtain optimal concentration and motility. The semen sample is centrifuged and washed to remove debris. Large amounts of the best performing sperm are inserted directly through the female’s cervix and into the uterus. This will provide a greater chance that sperm will make the journey to the fallopian tubes, where fertilisation takes place. This is the main benefit of the IUI treatment.
The sperm is either provided by the husband/partner or from a sperm donor (anonymous or known). The sperm can be provided fresh, or it can be frozen prior to treatment (e.g. sperm may have been stored prior to chemotherapy).
Same sex female couples or women who don’t have a partner are able to use donor sperm insemination (DI) to achieve a pregnancy.
IUI is not performed when there is:
The success of IUI in women over 40 years of age is very low, and is not normally recommended.
If a pregnancy is not achieved after a few attempts of AI, the use of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Semen Injection (ICSI) may be discussed by your specialist as the next option.