Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from less active sperm, thereby selecting the best quality sperm. The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb close to the time when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle (ovulation). It can be done without drugs or with a medicated cycle that will stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. IUI is associated with a higher risk of multiple pregnancies.
IUI is often a first (or sometimes second, see ‘Fertility drugs’) stepping stone to further treatment. For example, Lulu tried three cycles of IUI before being referred for IVF treatment (which worked for her first time). It is cheaper and less invasive and thus often chosen before IVF (In vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection).
While some found it reasonably straightforward others told us that the need for precise timing of IUI caused problems for them. Belinda and Carol both found the time commitment required for trips to the clinic very hard to balance with their jobs.
Other difficulties described by the women we talked to included that IUI could be time consuming, frustrating and emotionally draining. Those who used medicines to stimulate the ovaries sometimes had unpleasant side effects (see ‘Fertility drugs’).
The timing of IUI is crucial, a fact that could be distressing to women when a cycle had been abandoned because their ovulation fell on days when the clinic was closed. Lulu did three cycles of IUI but kept missing months because she didn’t ovulate in time or the clinic was closed. When Maggie was told that Clomid hadn’t worked and the next step was IUI, she felt as though she was on a treadmill. She was a bit concerned that the clinic relied on the date of her last period since her fertility drugs had made her cycle rather erratic.
Belinda described how hard she found it emotionally, worrying about whether the treatment was going to work or not work, when one of her treatment cycles was cancelled. 
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Last reviewed July 2017.
​Last updated July 2017.


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