The American Pregnancy Association defines IUI, or intrauterine insemination, as the placement of sperm directly inside a woman's uterus. This procedure is used to help women who have been trying to conceive for at least one year.
As the American Pregnancy Association explains, before a doctor performs IUI, laboratory workers wash the man's semen sample. This separates the sperm from the semen. The woman is given human Chorionic Gonadatropin to stimulate the release of eggs from the egg follicles in her ovaries. A doctor introduces the washed sperm into the woman's uterus via a flexible tube called a catheter. Doing so increases the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes.
Women under the age of 35 have a higher success rate with IUI than women over the age of 35, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Couples use IUI for various reasons. In women, thickened cervical mucus or cervical scarring caused by surgery or disease may make it difficult for sperm to reach the fallopian tubes. Some men have fertility problems that prevent the sperm from reaching the uterus. These problems include decreased sperm motility, low sperm count and difficulty ejaculating. Experts from the Sperm Bank of California define motility as the number of moving, living sperm compared to the total number of sperm in a semen sample.