Intracervical insemination (ICI) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are two forms of artificial insemination aiding women in conception. They address male sperm issues or female cervical structure concerns. While both are popular and effective, understanding their differences is key to determining the most suitable option for an individual’s fertility journey. This blog aims to demystify artificial insemination by exploring the distinct characteristics and benefits of both ICI and IUI.

Artificial insemination is a fertility treatment where sperm is directly injected into a woman’s cervix or uterus, contrasting with IVF where fertilization happens externally in a lab. This method is often recommended at the Carolinas Fertility Institute for women under 35 who haven’t conceived after six months of trying, and for women over 35 after a year of attempting to conceive. This process offers a different approach to fertilization compared to other treatments.

In intracervical insemination (ICI), sperm is placed into the cervix, the gateway to the uterus. This method involves monitoring the ovulation cycle, sometimes with additional medication to stimulate ovulation and improve conception chances. The process uses a syringe for inserting donated sperm into the cervix. Post-insertion, the woman rests to facilitate sperm travel to the uterus. The American Pregnancy Association notes ICI’s pregnancy rates as more effective than timed intercourse.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is similar to ICI but includes extra steps. The semen is prepared and washed to reduce allergic reactions and enhance fertilization chances. Using a speculum for better uterine access, a slender instrument then inserts the sperm. Post-insemination, the woman rests to facilitate fertilization. For both ICI and IUI, taking a pregnancy test at home two weeks later helps determine the procedure’s success.

The key distinction between ICI and IUI lies in the sperm placement: ICI involves inserting sperm into the cervix, while IUI places it directly in the uterus. ICI is simpler and less costly, while IUI includes sperm screening and cleaning, which can identify certain male infertility types. ICI is a good initial step in fertility treatment, and IUI is beneficial for cervical or sperm motility issues. However, there’s no definitive evidence showing a difference in birth rates between the two methods.