IUI -- intrauterine insemination -- is performed by threading a very thin flexible catheter through the cervix and injecting washed sperm directly into the uterus. The whole process doesn't take very long — it usually only requires the insertion of a speculum and then the catheter, a process that maybe takes a couple of minutes (60-90 seconds to introduce the catheter, then sperm injection, and another 60 seconds or so to remove the catheter — going slowly helps reduce discomfort).
When an ovum is released, semen provided by the woman's male partner, or by a sperm donor is inserted into the woman's vagina or uterus. The semen may be fresh or it may be frozen semen which has been thawed. Where donor sperm is supplied by a sperm bank, it will always be quarantined and frozen and will need to be thawed before use. In the case of vaginal artificial insemination, semen is usually placed in the vagina by way of a needleless syringe. A longer tube, known as a 'tom cat' may be attached to the end of the syringe to facilitate deposit of the semen deeper into the vagina. The woman is generally advised to lie still for a half hour or so after the insemination to prevent seepage and to allow fertilization to take place. An alternative method involves the placing of partner or donor sperm in the woman's vagina by means of a specially designed cervical cap, a conception device, which holds the semen in place for a period of time, usually for several hours, to allow fertilization to take place. Using this method, a woman may go about her usual activities while the cervical cap holds the semen in the vagina. A more efficient method of artificial insemination is to insert semen directly into the woman's uterus IUI. Where this method is employed only 'washed' semen may be used and this is inserted by means of a catheter. Specially designed equipment is available for carrying out artificial inseminations. Semen is occasionally inserted twice within a 'treatment cycle'. If the procedure is successful, the woman will conceive and carry to term a baby. A pregnancy resulting from artificial insemination will be no different from a pregnancy achieved by sexual intercourse.
Some patients are often indecisive between IUI and IVF. IUI is a rather simpler procedure and costs less than an IVF cycle. Often, younger couples explore the option of IUI before attempting IVF. However, IUI lets the nature take its course and lets fertilization occur on its own. However, IVF fertilizes the egg with sperm and then transfer the formed zygote into the uterus, offering a much higher chance of pregnancy. It is often advised that couples seek IVF rather than attempting IUI several times with a mere chance around 20-25 % compared to chances of success with IVF that could run as high as 60-65%.