IUI (intra-uterine insemination) is one of the most frequently used forms of reproductive medicine. It is primarily used when the man has a slight limitation in the quality of the semen. Insemination can also be used if the couple cannot have normal sexual intercourse due to vaginismus, erectile dysfunction or ejaculation problems. The woman must not have any fertility disorders and the fallopian tubes must be functional and open.
There are two types of IUI:
The semen used for homologous insemination here in Linz is obtained through masturbation and must be of sufficient quality. Sperm obtained via MESA or TESE cannot be used in IUI. After the semen has been collected, the sperm are processed. The ejaculate is ‘washed’ in such a way that only high quality and particularly mobile sperm remain in the solution. Then the semen is drawn into a thin catheter and deposited directly into the partner’s uterine cavity at the time of ovulation. The sperm are then able to swim naturally through the fallopian tubes to fertilise the waiting egg cell.
Semen used in heterologous or donor inseminations here in Linz can be ordered from the European Sperm Bank and sent to the KIWI Dr Loimer to be stored. Donor sperm is required by couples where the man is unable to conceive (azoospermia); same-sex female couples also need to use donor sperm.
The legal situation in Austria means single persons may not be treated with donor sperm.
In theory, insemination can take place in the natural cycle at the time of ovulation in women, but in practice this has not proven very promising (10 to 15 per cent success rate). Therefore, in many cases, the maturation of the egg cells is stimulated by hormone medication (FSH, clomiphene) and ovulation is artificially induced with human chronic gonadotropin (hCG). After the ovulation-inducing medication has been injected, the woman is inseminated. The sperm is slowly injected into the uterus through the cervix, and the treatment is painless. After the procedure, the woman lies down for a moment so the sperm can spread. The ‘stimulated insemination’ has a pregnancy rate of up to 18 per cent per attempt.