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IUI (intrauterine insemination)

  • Often a first treatment in unexplained infertility
  • Can be used with sperm from a male partner or from a sperm bank donor
  • Widely used today in the fertility treatment of lesbian and single women
  • Sperm donor samples are screened and quarantined
IUI treatment LWC

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilisation. The aim is to increase the number of sperm reaching the fallopian tubes and thus increase the chances of fertilisation. It is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to in vitro fertilisation and is the most commonly applied technique for donor insemination.

IUI: How it works

IUI is a fairly common and simple procedure in which sperm is directly introduced to the uterus via a soft catheter. The aim is to increase the number of sperm cells reaching an egg when released at ovulation. IUI is a much less invasive and less expensive treatment than IVF or ICSI and is the most commonly applied technique for donor insemination. Today, most (though not all) IUI treatments begin with a short course of hormone therapy for the female partner to encourage the development of several follicles and increase the chance of pregnancy. This stimulated IUI requires close ultrasound monitoring to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy. IUI can also be performed in a natural cycle, in which the introduction of sperm coincides with ovulation.

Donor insemination at the LWC

IUI at the LWC using sperm from a donor is conducted in association with the London Sperm Bank, which has the largest donor insemination programme in the UK. The London Sperm Bank has treated single women and lesbian couples for many years, and offers advice and treatment in relaxed and informal surroundings.

Patients are carefully assessed before treatment and counselling is always necessary to ensure that patients are fully aware of the UK's legislation on the identity of sperm donors. All children born as a result of donor insemination in the UK have the right at the age of 18 to know the donor’s identity. Sperm donors are screened for sexually transmittable agents (including HIV) and genetically inherited diseases. Sperm samples are frozen and quarantined for a minimum of six months, at which point the test for HIV is repeated prior to use.

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