Advantages and Disadvantages of Intrauterine Insemination

For many people, the first treatment that comes to mind when they think of fertility care is in vitro fertilization. Although IVF has revolutionized fertility medicine since the first successful IVF pregnancy in the 1970s, there are many other treatments that might be more appropriate, especially as the cause of infertility is determined. One such treatment is intrauterine insemination or IUI.

History of IUI

Also called artificial insemination, IUI is one of the first types of fertility intervention procedures recorded. The first documented use of IUI was in London in the 1770s by John Hunter, often referred to as “the founder of scientific surgery.” From that time – when semen was collected post-coitally with a “warmed syringe” – advancements in medicine and technology have made the process of IUI simpler and more effective.

IUI is most often recommended for couples with unexplained infertility, male factor infertility – such as low sperm count or poor sperm motility – or for those using donor sperm. Overall, the procedure is simple and can be broken down into 3 main steps:

  • Ovulation is tracked to identify a fertile period
  • Semen is collected and washed
  • Sperm is inserted directly into the uterus

The sperm washing process is important for two reasons: first, it removes everything but the healthiest and most mobile sperm which have the best chance to reach the egg, and because inserting semen directly into the uterus can cause cramping and pain. Once the sperm is prepared and a fertile period is determined, the actual IUI is very similar to a pap smear. A speculum is used to gently expand the vaginal walls, and then a thin catheter is inserted through the cervix to inject the washed sperm.

Advantages of IUI

IUI has two main advantages over other types of fertility treatments. This procedure is:

  1. Less invasive
  2. Less expensive

Because eggs don’t need to be removed from the body, the process is far less invasive for the partner that will be carrying the pregnancy. The procedure also costs less than IVF since no egg extraction or laboratory monitoring is needed. For these reasons, when appropriate, IUI is a recommended procedure to try when first beginning fertility treatments.

Disadvantages of IUI

Though IUI can be a great option for some people, it does not address several fertility challenges. For IUI to be effective, the partner carrying the pregnancy needs to be ovulating and have clear and undamaged fallopian tubes, and the sperm used has to have a certain level of motility. If these factors aren’t met, a higher degree of intervention may be required.

What Comes Next

If you have been struggling to get pregnant for more than six months, it may be time to consider fertility treatments.

Whether you need IUI, semen analysis, IVF, or a combination of treatments, our fertility experts are here to answer your questions and advise you on the best treatments for you and your goals. Contact us today to begin your journey to parenthood!

Browse different topics, watch videos, and find the latest news in our Learning Center.


Our Commitment to Inclusivity

We take pride in ensuring that each person who enters our clinic feels comfortable and heard. That's why each member of the Laurel Fertility Care team has earned a certification in LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Third Party Reproduction

What is Third Party Reproduction?

In some cases a third party, such as a donor and/or a gestational carrier is needed.

Why Laurel Fertility Care?

We offer a supportive, inclusive, and knowledgeable team to guide you when you’re ready to pursue your dream of a family. Our team is dedicated to providing you with personalized care that is full of hope!

You Treatment Options

Our team of specialists is here to create a personalized care plan for you. Learn more about our treatment options and what works best for you and your family.