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Welcome to our guide to IUI treatment: digestible, comprehensive and reviewed by medical experts. Whether you’re brand new to fertility treatment or a pro already, this guide is for you to better understand the ins and outs of IUI treatment.
Reviewed by Dr. Taraneh Nazem
Reproductive Endocrinologist at RMA of New York
OB/GYN and expert in reproductive medicine
A few quick facts
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. It means introducing semen into the uterus in hopes of creating a healthy pregnancy.
The first successful human pregnancy using IUI was in 1793 (!) by John Hunter in London.1
You may have heard of “the turkey baster method” or seen it depicted in pop culture, like Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman’s movie The Switch.2
hands of a woman, a woman taking a pill - collage stylea woman taking a bill and a couple holding hands

What is IUI?

IUI is a treatment option when a partner has sperm quality issues, or for same sex female couples or single women who need access to sperm to conceive. In IUI treatment, a doctor selects the highest quality sperm from a semen sample and places it into a woman’s uterus using a thin catheter for a better chance of a successful pregnancy.3

What is the IUI treatment process?

In most cases, the person who will carry the pregnancy takes fertility medication to boost egg production. It’s also possible to go through IUI during a normal menstrual cycle without medication.4 Over the course of 2 weeks, the person planning to carry will go to the clinic for a couple of visits to track their cycle and determine when they have a dominant follicle ready for ovulation. At these monitoring appointments a fertility doctor will also determine if there is more than one follicle developing.  When the time is right, the carrying partner will be given a hormonal injection to help the eggs mature and ovulate.  

Twenty four to 36 hours later, sperm from either a male partner or donor will be washed and prepared for insemination. A doctor will place the washed sperm at the top of the female partner’s uterus using a small thin catheter. This procedure takes minutes, and it’s generally not painful. 

Then, there’s a bit of a wait: 2 weeks, to be exact At that point, a female partner will find out whether or not the procedure has resulted in a pregnancy. If not, she can try again — even right away, if she wants to.

What is the success rate of IUI?

There are many factors to consider, including diagnosis, if any; the female partner’s age; the male partner’s sperm count; and whether fertility medications are used. It can take several rounds of IUI to achieve a successful pregnancy. Generally speaking, IUI success rates peak at 15% per attempt, but they can be much lower.

What is the cost of IUI?

IUI treatment generally costs about $5,000. It’s less expensive than standard IVF because you don’t need to pay for everything that goes into the egg collection process. Costs vary depending on how much medication is used in your treatment.

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Base cost of IVF:  
$3,000

Two needles and a doctor's hands

Medication:

$2,000

IVF Treatment process - needles, test tubes and doctor's hands

Total average cost:
$5,000

collage style image of a woman, a couple holding hands and a woman holding a flowercollage style image of a woman, a couple holding hands and a woman holding a flower

Common questions about IUI

Your fertility doctor will be able to answer your specific questions about your unique treatment plan, but there are a handful of questions that nearly every patient asks:

What happens day by day after IUI?
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There’s a lot going on over the course of two weeks!

In the first 1-3 days, sperm fertilizes with the egg inside the body, usually within 12-24 hours of ovulation.

Over the next few days, the embryo cells will divide and develop before implanting into the wall of the uterus, which usually happens on Day 9. Some people experience light spotting or cramping, which can also be symptoms of ovulation.

On Days 10-14, the embryo implants. HCG, a hormone produced in pregnancy, can be picked up by a pregnancy test 12-14 days after the IUI procedure.

What is the average number of IUI cycles needed to get pregnant?
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If you’re under 40, many people have good results with up to 6 cycles9 before moving on to IVF. If you’re over 40, you might be advised to skip IUI and start with IVF.10

What are the benefits of IUI?
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IUI is less invasive, less expensive, and involves less medication than standard IVF. It’s available as an option to help single people, same sex couples, and heterosexual couples conceive. It can also be a safe and effective way to conceive a child if a male partner has HIV.8

What are the risks of IUI?
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IUI is generally a very safe procedure with minimal to no risk. If it’s used in combination with medication, there is a possibility of multiple births, like twins or triplets.7 There’s also a slightly increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, or pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus, following IUI.  

What is the difference between IUI and IVF?
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IUI is generally less successful than IVF, but it can be a good option in some cases, like in single or LGBTQ parenting, mild male factor infertility, or in combination with medication for women who do not regularly ovulate. Many people choose to start treatment with IUI because it’s a little less invasive than IVF and is often less costly.

Is IUI a good option for me?

As always, it’s important to consult with a fertility doctor to understand whether IUI is a good choice for you, particularly if you have a male partner with sperm quality concerns. You will likely have to have a fertility assessment before your doctor can recommend the best course of action for you. 

Unfortunately, we can’t currently support IUI treatment in our Gaia Plans, but we’ll let the community know as soon as we change this.

Who is IUI most suitable for?

Still have questions about IUI?

If you have any other questions about IVF we haven’t answered, DM us on Instagram.

“Research the best clinic for you, you’ll spend a lot of time there and you need to be comfortable with the space, the staff and the journey.”

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Katie and Georgia

Gaia Members since 2021
Age: 34 and 27
Treatment: IVF with donor eggs
Treatment history: 2 IUI treatments

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