What is Intrauterine Insemination?
Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI), also known as artificial insemination (AI) is a fertility treatment that uses a small catheter (thin tube) to place a number of washed sperm directly into the uterus. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. The IUI procedure takes little time and involves minimal discomfort.
When is IUI used?
IUI is a fertility treatment often selected by couples who have been unable to conceive through normal intercourse. It is often a first step in trying to conceive for patients who have been unable to conceive due to:
- Low sperm number, motility, or normal forms
- Unexplained reasons
- Use of frozen sperm due to the male partner’s absence
- Requirement of donor sperm
How does IUI work?
The IUI procedure is simple and may be performed in a woman’s natural cycle, though most often is combined with some type of ovulation medication (Clomid, Letrozole, or injectable medications). Using an ovulation medication helps to ensure that a woman will ovulate predictably and helps eliminate the stressful situation of not ovulating naturally.
An ultrasound examination is used to monitor the size of the follicles (Small fluid filled sacs on the ovary containing eggs). Depending on the situation, a medication (hCG) may be given to induce ovulation. hCG acts to stimulate the release of eggs from the follicles with a predictable timing. An insemination is then typically performed roughly 24 hours after hCG is given.
On the day of the IUI, a semen sample is collected. Best samples are obtained after 2-5 days of abstinence. It can be collected at our offices, or collected and brought from home. If collected at home, it should arrive at the office no longer than 45 minutes after collection. The semen sample will then be processed by the lab to separate and concentrate the sperm from the seminal fluid. After processing the sperm sample is placed into a small tube connected to a syringe.
A speculum is then placed into the vagina, much like when a pap smear is performed. The cervix is wiped clean, then the very thin flexible catheter is gently placed through the cervix, directly into the uterine cavity. The sperm are then gently injected into the uterus, where they will work their way out the tubes very quickly, likely in minutes to a few hours. The actual insemination process doesn’t take very long, usually just a few minutes at most. Most women consider IUI to be fairly painless — along the same lines as having a pap smear.
After the insemination, patients usually relax laying down for 10-15 minutes. You can then resume your normal activities. The uterus and tubes have been flooded with sperm, and they will not come out. Some women can have some increased discharge after the insemination. This is not the sperm coming out, but is increased discharge from the stimulation of the cervix by the catheter. You may have intercourse as soon as you wish, but is not absolutely necessary. From the day of insemination, we usually tell patients to wait 16 days to see if their menses comes. If your menses occurs, this indicates it was not successful. If you have not had your menses by 16 days after insemination, check a home pregnancy test. You should then contact us regardless, if your period comes, or if you get a positive test so that we can then walk you through the next steps.
How much does this cost?
Inseminations are often a first step in trying to conceive as they are simple and less costly than other more advanced fertility treatments.
At the FIRM, we will always openly provide costs to you so that you can make informed decisions in your care and aren’t caught with any “hidden” costs.
Insurance may cover some, all, or none of these charges depending on your coverage. You can check with your plan or speak with our benefits department to find out what costs you would be responsible for.
A typical cycle will involve:
- Baseline Ultrasound at start of cycle $125
- Ovulation medication Often covered by insurance
- Ovulation monitoring ultrasound $125
- hCG Medication (if necessary) $85
- Insemination from male partner $245
- Insemination using frozen or donor sperm $190
Total Typical Cost $560-645