How conception takes place naturally?


For a woman to get pregnant, a man’s sperm must travel from the vagina through the cervix (narrow, lower part of the womb), into the uterus (womb) and up into one of the fallopian tubes. If sperm arrives in the tubes soon after the release of the egg from the ovary (ovulation), the sperm and egg can meet in the tube, most commonly, on the side that ovulation took place, and then fertilization may occur.


How conception takes place naturally?


Because the cervix naturally limits the number of sperms that enter the uterus,  only few sperms actually make their way to the fallopian tubes. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that bypasses the cervix and places sperm into a women’s uterus makes the trip to the fallopian tubes much shorter. This way, there is a better chance that more sperms will make their way closer to the egg. This procedure is performed to improve a woman’s chance of getting pregnant.


When is IUI helpful?


There are many reasons why couples experience difficulty having a baby. IUI may be useful for some of them:

  • Female infertility:


Women who do not release an egg regularly (ovulate) may take medications to help them ovulate regularly. These women may need IUI to time insemination at about the same time as ovulation. Also, IUI is helpful when a woman’s cervix has scarring that prevents the sperm from entering the uterus from the vagina; this may be seen in women who have had surgery on their cervix. Infertile women sometimes take medications that cause their ovaries to produce several eggs at once. These women appear to have a better chance of getting pregnant if they also have IUI.

  • Male infertility;


IUI is most commonly used when the male partner has a low sperm count or if the movement of the sperm (motility) is less than ideal. But also IUI is useful for couples that are infertile because the male has problems developing an erection or being unable to ejaculate or if the man has an abnormal urethral opening.


How is IUI done?


Once collected, the semen sample is then ‘’washed’’ in the laboratory, to concentrate the sperm and remove the seminal fluid (seminal fluid can cause severe cramping in the woman). This process can take up to two hours to complete.

IUI is performed near the time that the female partner is ovulating. The IUI procedure is relatively simple and only takes a few minutes. The woman lies on an examining table and the clinician inserts a speculum into her vagina to see her cervix. A catheter (narrow tube) is inserted through the cervix into the uterus and the washed semen sample is slowly injected. Usually this procedure is quite painless, but some women have mild cramps.


Does it work?


The success of IUI depends on the cause of the couple’s infertility. It works best for best for men when the majority of their sperm does not move and for women whose cervix prevents sperms from entering their uterus. Overall, success rates can be as high as 20% per cycle depending on whether fertility medications are used, age of the female, and infertility diagnosis, as well as other factors that could impact the success of the cycle.


Are there risks for IUI?


If a woman is taking fertility medications when undergoing IUI, her chance of getting pregnant with twins, triplets or more is greater than if she were not taking fertility medications. Undergoing an IUI does not increase the risk of having birth defects.  The risk of developing an infection after an IUI is small.