Penn Fertility Care

Patient Resources

Reproductive Health Information

Intrauterine Insemination/Artificial Insemination (IUI/AI)

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that uses a catheter 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.

When is IUI used?

IUI is a fertility treatment often selected for couples who have been trying to conceive for at least one year but who have no known reasons for their infertility. It may also be selected as a fertility treatment with the following conditions:

  • low sperm count
  • low sperm motility
  • donor sperm
  • sexual dysfunction

Although IUI still requires the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start, but it still has to seek out the egg on its own.

How does IUI work?

The IUI procedure is simple and may be performed even if the woman is not receiving medications to improve or increase her egg production. However, many physicians will encourage women to take make mediations to stimulate the ovaries in order to increase egg production and hopefully the chance of achieving pregnancy. Usually the IUI is scheduled 24-48 hours after ovulation is detected.

The semen sample will be processed by the laboratory in order to separate the sperm from the seminal fluid. A catheter is used to inject the processed sperm directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus and thus increases the possibility of conception. The IUI procedure is short and involves minimal discomfort. The next step is to wait for the pregnancy test.

How successful is IUI?

Younger women usually have higher rates of success compared to women over age 35, but the average success rate for IUI ranges from 5-15 percent per cycle.