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Before You Have an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination): Everything You Need To Know

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Updated June 18, 2014

Sometimes in the course of fertility treatments, your doctor may recommend that you have an IUI, or intrauterine insemination. This procedure can be done with or without medication. It can also be used as an additional intervention if “the traditional method” has been insufficient to produce a pregnancy after a few cycles. Finally, same sex couples or single women can use it to become pregnant without a male partner.

What is an IUI?

Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is a procedure where sperm is introduced directly into the uterine cavity around the time of ovulation, in the hopes of producing a pregnancy.

How Is the Procedure Done?

Before the IUI, the sperm specimen will need to be prepared. You will be asked to identify the specimen to ensure that it is the correct one. Once ready, the physician will introduce a speculum into the vagina to visualize the cervix. A mild cleaning solution may be used to clean the cervix and surrounding vaginal tissue. A small amount of the washed sperm will be drawn into a syringe with a tiny catheter attached. The catheter is passed through the cervix and then the sperm injected into the uterus. The catheter and speculum will then be removed and you may be asked to rest for a short period of time.

Why Do I Need To Have an IUI?

There are numerous reasons why a couple would get an IUI. If the male partner’s sperm count, motility or shape is less then adequate, IUI may give the sperm a better chance at meeting the egg. If a woman’s cervical mucus is scant or thick and tacky (ovulatory mucus is normally thin and stretchy), IUI will allow the sperm to bypass the mucus. Finally, a single woman or same sex couple may elect to use donor sperm to conceive a child.

Will It Hurt?

An IUI shouldn’t hurt. Some mild discomfort may occur when the speculum is inserted, or you may experience cramping when the catheter passes through the cervix. The discomfort is temporary and should be relieved at the end of the procedure.

What Can I Expect Afterwards?

You may notice a little spotting if the catheter scrapes the cervix. This is nothing to be concerned about and should stop shortly. Make sure to check with your physician if you need to follow any special instructions.
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