IUI is a relatively straightforward procedure, involving inserting sperm into the womb in a monitored and controlled way to ensure the best chance of a successful conception.
Timing is vital to ensure that insemination happens just after ovulation, when a mature egg is released by the ovary. A small amount of hormone medication is used to stimulate the ovaries to ensure that one egg matures. This is monitored with ultrasound scans and then an injection is given to trigger the release of the egg from its follicle in the ovary.
This procedure feels similar to having a smear test, so the woman undergoing the procedure is unlikely to need any pain relief or sedation. A fine tube called a catheter is guided through the cervix (neck of the womb) using a syringe and the sperm is released high in the womb.
For IUI to be successful, the fallopian tubes, which carry the egg to the womb, must be clear – so before treatment it is advisable to have a HyCoSy (Hystero Contrast Sonography) test. For this test, a fluid containing a dye is gently introduced into the womb using a catheter and monitored with an ultrasound scan. The test also shows up the lining of the womb to check it is in good health.