Intrauterine insemination (IUI) refers to the injection of sperm into the uterine cavity around the time of ovulation to improve pregnancy chances. Intrauterine insemination (or "artificial insemination") is useful in cases of unexplained infertility, male factor infertility, ejaculation problems, and is also useful for single or lesbian women desiring pregnancy. Less expensive than some other fertility treatments, IUI is relatively simple and painless for the patient.
Intrauterine insemination is more common than other types of artificial insemination treatments including vaginal and cervical insemination. This is because IUI procedures insure a higher sperm count entering the female, which means increased chances of a sperm successfully fertilizing an egg.
The process of IUI is straight forward. The male produces a sample. The sample is then processed or "washed" in the lab. Washing the sperm helps to isolate a higher concentration of motile sperm. The washed sample is placed in a catheter. The catheter is threaded through the cervix into the uterus and the sperm is deposited.
During normal intercourse a large number of sperm are lost from the transition between the cervix to the uterus. With IUI we bypass this transition point and place the sperm directly in the uterus. In general, the motility of the sperm in the washed sample is also much higher. More sperm in the right place, at the right time leads to an increased chance of success!
Inseminations can be paired with the female partner taking Clomid or injectable gonadotropins. These medications result in an increase in the number of eggs she produces. Combining IUI with these treatments can truly maximize fertility by ensuring that both more sperm and more eggs are in the right place at the right time.
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