In IUI, fertilization of the egg happens inside the woman’s body i.e. sperm meets egg in the body. In this case, it is not necessary to retrieve the egg from the woman, which makes IUI a less invasive procedure than IVF (read more about the IVF process). With fertilization happening in the woman’s body, there is also no need for further processing in an IVF laboratory as well as subsequent transfer of embryos back into the woman. This makes IUI a relatively simple process with significantly lower costs.
IUI may be a suitable treatment for conditions such as erectile dysfunction, poor sperm mobility or other unexplained infertility issues. It is often an option explored by many couples who are trying to conceive, before they go on to IVF.
In IUI, the man’s semen sample is first obtained and processed to extract the sperm. The sperm is then inserted into the woman’s uterus via injection during the ovulation period. This procedure maximises the number of active sperm cells placed in the uterus, therefore increasing chances of natural conception. It may be paired with fertility medication, given to the woman, to stimulate ovulation before starting a cycle. A pregnancy test can be done in 2 weeks to determine if the treatment is successful.
Anaesthesia is not required in IUI as there is minimal pain when placing the sperms in the womb. What the woman feels is quite similar to that of undergoing a pap smear. IUI is a procedure that can be conducted in the gynaecologist’s clinic within 30 minutes approximately.
If IUI fails, some couples may repeat the process. However, if IUI repeatedly fails to result in pregnancy, IVF would be the next treatment option in line.