A type of fertility treatment, IUI (intrauterine insemination) is commonly used for women who are using donated sperm in treatment


An option often chosen by same-sex couples and single women, here the University Of College London share a little of their expertise on IUI fertility treatment…

What is IUI?

IUI is a type of fertility treatment in which high quality sperm are separated from sperm that are sluggish or non-moving. This sperm is then injected into the womb through the cervix. 

What does a typical IUI cycle look like?

The following steps outline a cycle of IUI and the most commonly used procedures. You may find that you are given different drugs or that your treatment is slightly different depending on your previous history and/or fertility treatments.

1. Checking fallopian tubes to make sure that an egg can travel freely from the ovary to the womb. This is done using a special kind of ultrasound scan that can also check that the inside of the womb looks healthy.

2. Fertility drugs: You can either have fertility drugs to boost your egg production or you can have IUI as part of your normal menstrual cycle. 

3. Scans:If you are taking fertility drugs you will probably need to have ultrasound scans to check how many follicles (eggs) are developing. 

4. Hormone injection: One to two days before the insemination of sperm takes place, you will either be given a hormone injection to help the eggs mature or you will have tests to check when you are about to ovulate. 

5. Insemination: The best quality sperm available will be injected into your uterus. The whole process takes just a few minutes and is relatively pain free. It involves a gentle internal examination with a speculum, similar to what you may have had during a cervical smear test.

6. Pregnancy test after two weeks of IUI.

How successful is one cycle of IUI?

As with any fertility treatment, the younger the woman is the higher her chances of getting pregnant.

For women aged under 35, about 14% of IUI cycles result in a pregnancy (a cycle is one full round of IUI treatment). Women aged 35 to 37 get pregnant on around 12% of cycles and the success rate for women aged 38-42 is 10%.

For women over 42, chances are lower, around 6% per cycle. 

What is the difference between IVF and IUI?

IUI allows the body to do more on its own than IVF, so it is a more natural but also less successful form of treatment.

In IUI, the highest quality sperm are selected and injected into the uterus where they are left to fertilise the eggs naturally.

In IVF, the eggs are removed from the body and fertilised in the lab. This means that IUI is a less invasive procedure which involves fewer drugs than IVF. It is also considerably less expensive.

How safe is IUI?

Generally, IUI is a very safe procedure. The main worry is that you might have a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more), which carries serious health risks to both mother and babies.

Multiple babies are more likely to be premature, have a low birth weight or die before or after birth.

Your risk of multiple pregnancy will depend on how many follicles (and therefore how many eggs) develop.

This will be affected by whether you are taking fertility drugs. If you are taking fertility drugs it is vital that you have scans to check the number of follicles and if too many are developing your treatment should be stopped.

Our team will keep you informed at all stages of your treatment so that you can make informed decisions throughout your treatment journey.

The Reproductive Medicine Unit (RMU) at University College London Hospital now offers self-funded treatment to people who wish to have IUI using partner or donor sperm as part of their fertility treatment.

The RMU is well known for its high standards of patient care and excellent success rates for IUI treatment.

If you would like to know more about the service or are interested in booking an initial appointment, please get in touch using the details below.

Beata Pindela, beata.pindela@nhs.net. Private Patients Service Coordinator – Women’s Health Division. Women’s Health, 250 Euston Road, 2nd Floor North Wing, London NW1 2PG. Tel: 0203 44 75200.

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