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What should I expect with intrauterine insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is performed at different stages in a woman's cycle, depending on whether or not her ovulation is being stimulated with medications. If no female factors are causing infertility, IUI may be performed during a natural ovulation cycle with no medications. The timing of IUI is determined by using an “ovulation predictor” urine test, with the procedure performed the day after a positive test. Ultrasound exams may be used to help determine exact timing.

When performed with stimulation, to improve the chances of ovulation and to increase the number of eggs that are released, some women take medication such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene) or letrozole (Femara). These medications are usually taken daily during cycle days five through nine, followed by IUI timed with urine luteinizing hormone (LH) kits.

A physician performs the intrauterine insemination (IUI) approximately one hour after the semen arrives in the laboratory for processing. After a speculum is inserted into the vagina, a narrow catheter is slipped through the cervical canal. Sperm are deposited in the upper portion of the uterus. No medication or anesthetics are required, and the procedure is usually painless. Once the catheter and speculum are removed, you will remain lying down with your hips slightly elevated for 15 minutes.

After the intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure, you may leave the office and go about your usual activities. Light spotting after the procedure, as well as leakage of some insemination fluid, may occur; this discharge is normal. If you experience light cramping, you may treat it with acetaminophen. Do not take nonsteroidals, such as ibuprofen or naprosyn, as these medications may affect ovulation.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Eggs are released after you are given an injection of a medication such as the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Then specially prepared washed sperm from your partner can be inseminated directly in your uterus. This is called intrauterine insemination (IUI) of washed sperm. This is different from in vitro fertilization (IVF), since your eggs are allowed to release on their own and not be directly removed from you.

Dr. Jane I. Ruman, MD
Fertility Specialist

Performing intrauterine insemination may result in an increase in the number of sperm at the site of fertilization in the fallopian tube. Generally only 1 of 2000 sperm ejaculated into the vagina can later be found in the fallopian tube. Therefore, adding insemination to stimulated cycles may further improve the pregnancy rate. A possible side effect of the injectable fertility drugs is ovarian hyperstimulation, a condition in which the ovaries are tender and enlarged. In severe cases, a woman may have swelling from retaining excessive amounts of body fluid in the tissues. Fortunately, severe hyperstimulation is rare, occurring in less than one percent of treatment cycles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.