a happy couple, smiling at each other
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.
Dr. Salim
Reviewed by Dr. Rehan Salim
Medical Director at Lister Fertility
Consultant gynaecologist and expert in reproductive medicine
A few quick facts
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination.
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
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What is IUI?

IUI is a treatment option when a partner has sperm quality issues, or in same sex female couples or single women who need help conceiving. In IUI treatment, a doctor selects the highest quality sperm from a semen sample and injects it into a woman’s womb 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.4 Throughout the course of a few weeks, the person carrying the pregnancy will go to a clinic for a series of monitoring appointments. A fertility doctor will keep an eye on follicle growth, which determines how many eggs can develop and release.

When the time is right, the carrying partner will be given a hormonal injection to help the eggs mature and ovulate (or, if it’s during the normal menstrual cycle, a doctor will do tests to determine when the carrying partner will ovulate). 

On that same day, sperm from either a male partner or donor will be washed and prepared to choose the best quality sperm. Then, a doctor will inject the best sperm into the female partner’s uterus, which can sound scary but isn’t typically very painful. 

Then, it’s time to wait. In a few weeks, 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 are 1/3 of IVF’s success rates.5

What is the cost of IUI?

If you’re paying privately, IUI treatment costs between £900 and £2,500. It’s less expensive than standard IVF because you don’t need to pay for everything that goes into the egg collection process.

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Base cost of IVF:  

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

Total average cost:

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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 is the average number of IUI cycles needed to get pregnant?
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Depending on your situation, the NHS generally advises going through 6-12 IUI treatments.

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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There’s a possibility of multiple births, like twins or triplets, and premature birth or low birth rate.7 If you’re taking fertility medication, there’s a rare but possible risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can be dangerous and require medical attention. Some women experience mild cramping, similar to period pain. 

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 if you’re sensitive to hormonal medication or if you need to use donated sperm and don’t have egg quality concerns.6 You can read more in our guide here.

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 fertilises 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.

Am I eligible for IUI?

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.

Is IUI suitable for me?

IUI is a suitable option for heterosexual couples, same sex couples, and single parents.

Learn more about other options that may be suitable for you:

Still have questions about IUI?

If you have any other questions about IVF we haven’t answered, DM us on Instagram or join our community group.

“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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