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Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is a treatment for infertility that involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s womb using either sperm from the woman’s male partner or sperm from a sperm donor. This is a useful procedure when there is a problem with the man’s sperm or he cannot produce sperm during sexual intercourse, or if a woman has mild endometriosis or where there is an unexplained fertility problem.

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)

With IUI warmed sperm is introduced into the woman’s uterus (womb) around the time of ovulation, with the aim of getting the sperm nearer to the egg. Couples who are unable to have intercourse because of a disability, injury or difficulties such as premature ejaculation can also be helped using IUI.

Depending on the particular fertility problem a woman may be advised to use fertility drugs (ovulation induction) alongside IUI treatment but this is not recommended if the male partner has the fertility problem or where infertility is unexplained. This is because there is a much greater risk of a multiple pregnancy.

In unstimulated cycles, where no fertility drugs are used, IUI is timed to take place at the time natural ovulation occurs which will depend on the woman’s natural menstrual cycle. Ovulation usually occurs between days 12 and 15. When ovulation is detected, the male partner produces a sperm sample which is “washed” to extract the best quality sperm. A tube (catheter) introduces the sperm through the cervix and into her uterus, near a fallopian tube, where an egg would normally have travelled to from the ovary.

If infertility is unexplained, to increase the chances of success, the sperm may be inserted into the uterus with more fluid than is usual so it can wash up into the fallopian tubes more easily.

A pregnancy test is taken in about two weeks. Success rates depend on the causes of infertility and the couples’ age.  Conception is more likely where there is a problem with cervical mucus than where sperm quality is a factor.  Where sperm quality is a factor the ICSI procedure may be more successful.