Is IUI the right treatment for me?

Summary: IUI treatment is advisable for male who have poor sperm count or those who are not able to ejaculate sperms due to medical issues. However in the case of poor sperm quality which includes sperms with little or no movement and high percentage of abnormally shaped, IUI may not be the right treatment.


Many men are suddenly faced with the news that they are infertile. This can be quite emotionally disturbing. It is very hard to believe that you are not able to have children or that you are not able to impregnate a woman naturally. It bruises your ego sorely. The next concern is what others will think of you and who all should you reveal this news to.  It is quite a confusing time, but medical help is easily available.

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) is the most common treatment that doctors advise for male infertility. Some men are unsure as to whether IUI is the right treatment for them. There are several factors that can help you to determine this.

To start with, it is first important to understand what IUI is and what are the similarities and differences from a natural conception. For a natural conception the sperms are ejaculated into the cervix. These sperms have to swim to the fallopian tubes in search of the female egg. The swimming passage involves travelling through the uterus to the fallopian tubes. No many sperms are able to make this long and arduous journey. However, that is not of much concern because only one healthy sperm is required to fertilise the egg.

In the IUI procedure the sperms are placed in the female partner’s uterus. There are several advantages to this process. The sperms are now much closer to the fallopian tubes and hence more of them can travel the short journey from the uterus to the fallopian tubes where the mature egg is waiting to be fertilised.

If a man is not able to ejaculate sperm due to some tubal blockage or varicocele then the sperm are retrieved directly from the testes and the IUI procedure is used to inject the sperms into the woman’s uterus. If the female partner is in optimal fertility health the probability of her getting pregnant in the first attempt itself, is quite high.

The condition of male infertility is sometimes caused due to poor quality sperms or low sperm count. These sperms are not able to reach the egg or fertilise it through natural conception. The IUI procedure shortens the travel distance making it easier for the sperms. However, IUI may not be very helpful in the case of sperms with very poor swimming skills (motility).

IUI is usually recommended for males who have a poor sperm count. However the sperm quality should be good for the success of the IUI treatment. If your sperm motility and sperm morphology (shape of the sperm) is poor then it is better to consider ICSI (intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) rather than IUI. Even though ICSI is more expensive, the probability of success is much higher. With IUI you could be trying multiple times with no success and could also end up spending more money on this treatment in the long run.

Many men prefer IUI due to the low cost of the treatment. Women also prefer IUI as it is a very simple procedure, but it may not always be the right treatment.

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