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Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the deliberate introduction of semen into a woman's uterus for the purpose of achieving a pregnancy through fertilization by means other than ejaculation. It is the medical alternative to sexual intercourse, or natural insemination. Washed sperm, spermatozoa that have been removed from most other components of the seminal fluids, can be injected directly into a woman's uterus in this process. If the semen is not washed it may elicit uterine cramping, expelling the semen and causing pain, due to content of prostaglandin.


The most recent studies of artificial insemination suggest that the best results are achieved when insemination coincides with ovulation induced by fertility drugs. However, it is important that doctors undertaking this ovarian stimulation monitor their drug treatment to ensure there are not too many follicles developing in the ovary. A lot of follicles will produce too many eggs and increase the risk of multiple pregnancies, so the usual aim is to increase no more than three eggs. This far fewer than for IVF but ensures that the risks of multiple pregnancies are minimized. The early stages of treatment are therefore similar to steps 1 – 2 in IVF (but without the use of GnRH drugs). Only at the time of ovulation does the procedure change.