Artificial insemination 

Introduction 

Infertility

Around one couple in six in the UK is affected by infertility. If you and your partner have not conceived after one year of trying, see your GP.

It is best for both partners to see their GP because fertility problems can affect the man or woman. Sometimes, both partners are affected.

Your GP can give you advice about what to do next, and they will also carry out an initial assessment to investigate what may be causing your fertility problems.

Read more about infertility.

Fertility

Find out about treatments and support available if you have fertility problems

Artificial insemination is a treatment for infertility, when a couple cannot conceive a baby. It involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s womb.

It is most commonly used as part of a Donor Insemination (DI) programme, where donated sperm is used.

Artificial insemination on the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that up to six cycles of IUI treatment on the NHS may be offered if:

  • you are unable (or would find it very difficult) to have vaginal intercourse, for example because of a physical disability
  • you have a condition (such as a viral infection that can be sexually transmitted) that means you need specific help to conceive
  • you are in a same-sex relationship

Previously, IUI treatment on the NHS was offered if:

However, new guidelines released in 2013 state that IUI should no longer be offered in these circumstances. Instead, you should be advised to keep trying to conceive through regular unprotected sexual intercourse for a total of two years. After this time you may be offered in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Availability

The availability of this fertility treatment on the NHS varies throughout the UK. In some areas, the waiting list for treatment can be very long. The criteria that must be met to be eligible for treatment can also vary.

IUI is also available from some private fertility clinics. Costs vary from £500 to £1,000 for each cycle of treatment.

Each cycle of IUI is timed to coincide with the woman’s natural reproductive cycle, so you will only be able to receive one cycle of IUI treatment a month.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the technique used for artificial insemination, and it has a good record of success.

Figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in 2006 suggest that intrauterine insemination (IUI) has a success rate of around 15% for each cycle of treatment. This estimate is based on women under 35 years of age using donor sperm.

As with most other types of fertility treatment, the younger a woman is, the greater her chance of having a successful pregnancy. Other things that can affect the success of IUI include:

  • sperm count and sperm quality – using fresh sperm is associated with higher conception rates than frozen and thawed sperm
  • technical aspects of IUI, such as working out the time of ovulation correctly

Read about when artificial insemination is used for more information on the timing of IUI.

How is IUI performed?

In IUI, a man provides a sample of sperm, which is then "washed" and filtered using special techniques. This ensures that only the highest-quality motile sperm are used for the procedure.

During the procedure, the concentrated sperm is passed directly into the woman’s womb through a thin tube called a catheter.

Read more about how artificial insemination is performed.

It is not recommended to use fertility medication in combination with IUI. This is because there are associated risks such as a higher chance of multiple pregnancy.

Read more about the risks associated with multiple pregnancies.

Sperm donation

If the male partner cannot produce healthy sperm, frozen sperm from a donor can be considered, although this is a personal decision.

In rare cases, couples obtain donated sperm from someone they know. However, in most cases, sperm is obtained and treatment is carried out at a registered or licensed sperm bank.

Donor anonymity

In the past, sperm donors remained anonymous from the parents and the child produced by the donated sperm. However, in 2005, the law regarding donor anonymity changed.

Anyone born from donated sperm after April 1 2005 can apply to HFEA to obtain information about the identity of the donor, once they have reached 18 years of age. They can apply for non-identifying information before this.

The HFEA is the independent regulator for all fertility clinics in the UK. If you are considering donor insemination (DI) you can visit the HFEA website for more information or to find your local fertility centre.




Page last reviewed: 10/04/2013

Next review due: 10/04/2015

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Comments

The 12 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

feath32 said on 16 June 2014

Can I use this treatment if my tubes was tied I do still get periods every month its been over 2 years now I was pressured into it by my ex and regretted it since. I need some advice please help me

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feath32 said on 03 June 2014

i had my one tube tied and the other was removed due to a cyst a few years ago.my ex partner pressured me into having the other tied as he didn't want anymore children even though he didn't have any with me..he wasn't a very nice person and at the time i was scare and not strong enough.knowing i cant have children ever again has really left its mark. i left him and now got an amazing partner who has taken my other two children on as if they was his own. i know he would love to have have a baby so would i as not being nasty if i know what i know now i wouldn't of picked my kids real dad.. i was wondering what my chances are getting pregant and what would the best way be i do still get periods..my children are now 12 and 14 i am 32 please help thank you

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dyonomite reacher said on 22 January 2014

I am fearful of mental or physical development in an AI child , please if you have any information about this being a stronger possibility than with a normally conceived child .

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hollidan said on 16 September 2013

I am in a lesbian relationship i really want another baby i am fairly new to the whole how to get pregnant without a man i just want to know how much is it because i doubt the nhs will fund for me and my partner to get pregnant!! I would like to know other peoples experience thanks :)

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Scififaye said on 28 June 2013

Well I'm in a same sex relationship, we tried useing a doner and home insemination and it didn't work we tried just over a year. I went to the nhs for help and told no! The letter I got back said we had to try with the same doner for 3 years and had to have proof of this by having it done at a private clinic. But if I could afford that I wouldn't be asking the nhs for help. The letter was written as if we were not even gay. It was so silly , it's has a massive effect on my life and I have no faith in the system and if what I'm doing does not work within another 6 months I hope to take things further and get the treatment and help I should be given as all my straight couple friends have been given help!

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chezh said on 21 February 2013

My partner and I are 30 and 21. We have been trying to conceive since 2010 with a donor. In that time I have had 2 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy.
I had a child back in 2005 but before then, since 2001 I have constant miscarriages.
I am going to see a miscarriage clinic to find out why I keep losing pregnancies.
I was just wondering if the nhs would fund myself to have IUI treatment.

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chezh said on 21 February 2013

My partner and I are in a lesbian relationship, we have been ttc for 3 yrs with a sperm donor who is very fertile. So far i have had 2 mc and 1 ectopic pregnancy since 2010, I already have had 9 other miscarriages before these from 2001. However i did conceive my daughter, who would be 8 this year, Would I be able to get IUI funded by the NHS. My partner and I are desperate for a child in whih we can love
Hanks

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sherrysn said on 11 December 2012

i am 42 and my husband is 43, we have been trying to conceive for years. i want to know if we are eligible for free iui treatment?

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nqhappy1 said on 18 October 2012

So my husband and I are up to our second IUI procedure, and throughout our research have come across something called twice a cycle IUI (http://ivf-info.org/what-is-iui) and we are not sure if it is worth the extra money or not. Do you have any advice on the doing the IUI part twice per cycle?

Ta.

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anekke said on 03 September 2012

My partner and I would love to have a baby together but he had a vesoctomy quite a while ago. To get it reversed we would need £3000 which we just simply cannot afford. Is it possible to have insemination done using my partners sperm?

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sulhar29 said on 22 June 2011

One tip that I would give is start taking prenatal vitamins and eating healthy...excising would not hurt either if you feel up to it...best of luck and baby dust
<a rel="dofollow" href="http://www.totalhealthguide.net/artificial-insemination.html" rel="nofollow">Artificial Insemination</a>
http://www.totalhealthguide.net/artificial-insemination.html

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sharon22 said on 02 March 2010

me and my husband married recntly and would like to start a family of our own he had a vasectamy many years ago he had it refersed and was unsuccessful we tried to do aspiration of sperm but we can only do it private which we cannot afford so we are now looking into artificial insemination but dont no where to start what we have to do please could you help me in any way

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IVF

In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) can help many people with fertility problems to have a baby. Find out more here

Low sperm count

How to get this problem diagnosed and the treatment options available

Find and choose services for Artificial insemination