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Intrauterine (Artificial) Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is also commonly known as artificial insemination. This procedure involves placing a sperm sample that has been prepared (or "washed") directly into a woman's uterus near the time of ovulation. It is often coupled with ovulation induction, especially in couples who have infertility due to male factors, such as low semen volume, low sperm concentration or decreased sperm motility. It can also be used to treat infertility due to cervical mucus problems.
The main purpose of "washing" a semen sample is to separate the seminal fluid from the sperm cells. Seminal fluid contains prostaglandins, which can cause severe cramping in the uterus. Depending on the quality of the semen specimen, the sperm wash can also filter out cellular debris, round cells (including white blood cells), and dead sperm so that the final preparation that is used for the IUI contains a high concentration of sperm that have a good-to-fast-forward progression.
By processing the semen and placing the sperm directly into the uterus, IUI increases the number of sperm that move through the reproductive tract to the fallopian tubes - where fertilization usually occurs. This relatively simple procedure takes just a few minutes and is performed in our office without any sedation. In certain cases, back-to-back inseminations may be performed over the course of two consecutive days to further increase the amount of sperm in the reproductive tract during this key time in the reproductive cycle. This may enhance to the chance of achieving pregnancy, particularly in the case of donor sperm insemination procedures where no additional sperm reaches the fallopian tubes through sexual intercourse.