Artificial insemination involves the placing relatively large numbers of healthy sperm directly into a woman’s uterus, bypassing the cervix. This process is known as intrauterine insemination (IUI).
With IUI, the male partner’s specially washed and prepared sperm is injected into the female partner’s uterus through a small catheter usually during ovulation. Ovulation induction is often combined with IUI to maximize pregnancy success rates. IUI is most appropriate for couples with:
- mild male factor infertility
- minimal endometriosis infertility associated with diminished functioning of the ovaries
- infertility due to unknown causes
For IUI sperm may obtained from the male partner or obtained from an anonymous donor (therapeutic donor insemination). Commercial sperm banks are the source of donor sperm in the majority of TDI cases. Sperm banks provide information about the physical characteristics, medical history, education, and ethnic or racial background of the donors.
The use of frozen semen (from a licensed sperm bank) is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control to prevent sexually transmitted disease. At sperm banks, donors are tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, and others.
TDI is recommended in the following situations:
- couples in whom the male partner does not have sperm that can be used in treatments
- women without partners
- lesbian couples
- couples where the male carries a genetic disorder and the decision is to use a donor who does not carry this disorder.