Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (also known as artificial insemination) is a method which involves inserting sperm into the woman’s womb using a very thin tube made from plastic. A sample of the man’s sperm is collected and then the best specimens, the ones which move quickly and are shaped normally, are chosen to fertilise the egg in the woman’s body. The sperm are inserted during the woman’s ovulation period as this helps to increase the chances of fertilisation.

When is this method used?

This method is usually used when doctors have not been able to pinpoint the cause of infertility or when tests have shown that the male patient has a low sperm count, problems with ejaculation or is impotent. It may also be used if the woman has endometriosis.

Is this treatment available on the NHS?

NHS treatment is available for couples when the male’s sperm count is low, the cause of infertility is unknown or the woman is suffering from a mild case of endometriosis. The NHS offers couples up to six cycles of IUI.

What are the success rates?

According to the NHS, this method has a success rate of 15 percent per cycle. Success rates are higher amongst younger women; the success rates amongst women over the aged of 35 are considerably lower. Couples should not try more than six cycles of this type of treatment; couples who have failed to conceive after this time will usually be advised to try another fertility treatment.

Are there any risks?

The most common risks of this treatment include multiple births and OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome); this is a condition which causes the ovaries to become inflamed as a result of using fertility drugs; it can potentially be very dangerous and can cause nasty symptoms including severe bloating, nausea, sickness, abdominal pain and in extreme cases, chest pain and troubles with breathing. Multiple births lead to an increase in the risk of miscarriage and premature births.

How much does the treatment cost privately?

Private costs vary according to where the couple choose to go for the treatment; however, as a general guide, patients should expect to pay between £500 and £1000 per cycle.

Is treatment available immediately?

The availability of treatment usually varies between Primary Care Trusts; in most cases there will be a sizeable waiting list. Private treatment is usually available sooner but obviously it is much more expensive.

Egg or sperm donation: this involves using a donor to provide sperm or eggs. Donors are no longer permitted to stay anonymous since a change in the law in 2005; they must now give personal details as they child they help to create has a legal right to find out details of the donor once they reach the age of 18. Conception using donor eggs is usually carried out by means of IVF.

Guide to Infertility

Infertility Intro

Causes of Infertility


What is IVF?

Tips for boosting fertility