What is artificial insemination, and why is it performed?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placement of washed sperm into the uterus, at the time of ovulation. The sperm is washed in order to increase sperm motility, to filter out abnormal sperm, and to remove bacteria and other substances which would otherwise irritate the uterine lining. Washed sperm is more motile and more likely to achieve fertilization than unwashed sperm, especially in men with sperm problems, or in older women. Since insemination bypasses the cervix, it is also very helpful in situations in which the sperm is unable to pass through the cervical mucus (such as with inflammations, anti-sperm antibodies, or “dry” mucus).
How should the sperm be collected?
Sperm collection should be preceded by 3-5 days of abstinence, although in some instances it may be less. We provide a sterile container for collection, or you can obtain one at a drugstore. If produced at home, the specimen must arrive at the office within one hour of the time it was collected. It is essential that the sperm be kept as close to body temperature as possible while it is in transit.
How can we know when you are definitely ovulating?
If you are taking fertility drugs, ovulation can be precisely triggered to ovulate, using HCG injection. HCG causes egg release to occur 36 hours after it is administered so we generally perform two separate inseminations 24 and 48 hours after the injection of HCG (placing ovulation between the two IUIs). If you are using a natural cycle, we recommend follicle monitoring with ultrasound and blood work, performed in our office, to optimally time egg release.
How long does the procedure take?
The sperm preparation takes approximately 25-30 minutes. The actual insemination takes only a few minutes, and you lie on the table afterwards for ten minutes. You can then return to normal daily activities immediately afterwards.