Sperm Count Test for IUI Success
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment often used to treat infertility resulting from ovulation problems, endometriosis, or mild male factor infertility. Besides being dependent on female fertility and ovulation, IUI success is also highly dependent on the quantity and quality of sperm. Men with low sperm count or low sperm motility (ability of sperm to move towards the egg) often experience lower success rates with IUI.
What is IUI?
IUI involves collecting a sperm specimen from the male on the same day the IUI procedure is performed. The sperm sample is first “washed” or processed in the laboratory, before it is inserted it into the uterine cavity of the female. Once injected into the uterine cavity, the sperm needs to be able to swim to the fallopian tubes, where it will encounter the egg for fertilization.
Sperm Test: Sperm Count & Motility
Before investing time and money for artificial insemination, it is essential to have a sperm test, commonly referred to as a semen analysis, to evaluate your chances of having a successful IUI. Semen analysis will evaluate your sperm count and motility, and will give a good indication whether IUI is the recommended fertility treatment for you and your partner. The sperm test is a simple and painless procedure that requires you to collect a sperm sample. This is typically done via masturbation into a sterile cup, or by using a special condom during intercourse. Because sperm test results are affected by ejaculation frequency and sample collection, it is important to abstain from ejaculation for three to five days before collecting the sample, and to ensure the entire ejaculate is collected.
Sperm Count Needed for IUI Success
Because IUI relies on the sperm's ability to swim and locate the egg, high sperm count and motility are vital for a successful IUI procedure. In general, the number of motile sperm after processing the sperm sample should be approximately 5 million or more for the IUI to be successful. Success rate is considerably lower with a sample that has 1 to 5 million motile cells, and processed sperm samples that contain less than 1 million motile sperm cells are very unlikely to lead to successful fertilization. Thus, for men with low sperm count, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are recommended instead of IUI.