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Homologous and heterologous insemination

There are two different types of artificial insemination: homologous and heterologous. In homologous insemination, the sperm come from the woman’s partner. In heterologous insemination, donor sperm from a sperm bank are used.

When is insemination useful?

Homologous insemination can be used if:

  • The man’s sperm quality is only mildly impaired, i.e. there are too few sperm in the ejaculate or the sperm are not motile enough
  • The couple cannot have sex
  • There are organic causes in the woman, such as a constricted cervix

Heterologous insemination, on the other hand, is worth considering if:

  • The man is infertile, i.e. he does not have any sperm cells
  • He has a severe hereditary disease

IUI Step by Step: How does insemination work?

We customise each treatment to your specific needs and circumstances. As a rule, a woman’s IUI cycle follows the five steps described below.


Examination of the fallopian tubes

IUI treatment is only possible if your fallopian tubes (the tubes that transport the eggs to the uterus) are open and functioning well.

To check this, we use a procedure called HyCoSy (hysterocontrast sonography), in which a special dye is injected into your uterus. One of our ultrasound diagnosticians then uses a vaginal ultrasound to check whether the dye flows smoothly through your fallopian tubes.

The HyCoSy examination can take around 10 to 30 minutes and you may experience mild to moderate discomfort and cramping. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers half an hour before the examination can help.


Fertility medication

If you are prescribed medication, ultrasound examinations will be carried out to determine how many follicles are developing. A follicle is a small sac of fluid in the ovaries that contains a maturing egg.

If too many follicles develop during your IUI cycle, treatment may need to be cancelled due to the risk of a multiple pregnancy. If we suspect that this may be the case, we will discuss the options with you.



From around the eighth day of the menstrual cycle, the specialist will check the development of the follicle using ultrasound and blood tests.

In some patients, ovulation occurs on its own when the largest follicle has reached a size of around 18 to 20 millimetres. In other cases, ovulation must be triggered by the administration of another hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

The doctor will then recommend the days on which sexual intercourse has the best chance of fertilisation.

However, if sperm motility or sperm count is significantly reduced, treatment by means of artificial insemination is necessary.


Hormone Injection

Shortly before insemination, you will receive a hormone injection, known as a trigger injection. This helps the eggs to mature and be released so that they can migrate into the fallopian tube and meet the sperm.

Alternatively, you can carry out an ovulation test at home and come to the clinic for insemination on the day of the positive test.



The sperm from your partner or donor are washed and processed at around the same time as you release the eggs from your ovaries.

When the sperm are washed, seminal fluid and other impurities are removed so that the sperm are highly concentrated and the risk of irritating your uterus is reduced.

The best sperm are selected and injected into your uterus through a flexible, thin tube called a catheter. This procedure only takes a few minutes and is relatively painless, you may only feel slight cramps.

You should be able to go home immediately after the procedure.

We are here for you

If you would like to know more about insemination, have a question or would like to make an appointment at your local fertility centre, please contact us. We will get in touch with you as soon as possible and provide you with all the information you need to start your IUI treatment.

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Is IUI the right thing for me?

When you come to us, the first thing we will do is carry out a series of tests to find out if IUI is an option for you.

We may recommend IUI treatment for women if:

Your partner has a low sperm count or his sperm have poor motility, meaning they don’t move normally

You are unable to have vaginal intercourse, for example due to a physical disability

You have no fertility problems but would like to use donated sperm

There is a physical problem that prevents the sperm from ascending into the uterine cavity

You or your partner have a medical condition that requires specialised help to achieve a safe pregnancy

You are a female couple who would like to conceive a child with donor sperm

You are under 38 years old

You are a single woman who wants to get pregnant with the help of donor sperm; you can receive treatment at certain clinics

You would like to become pregnant with a co-parent

Is IUI a safe procedure?

Yes, IUI is a safe procedure with a low likelihood of complications.

The main issue with IUI is the higher likelihood of carrying more than one baby, which can increase the health risks for the mother and the babies.

If you have any questions about IUI, contact us today. Our friendly MVZ Kinderwunsch experts will be happy to answer all your questions and guide you on your path to fertility.

What happens after the IUI?

After a woman’s insemination, we will give you an appointment for a home pregnancy test. This will be about two weeks after the treatment.

We know that this waiting period is very stressful, but even though it is tempting, we advise you not to take the test before this date as the results may be misleading. Call us during this time if you have any questions or concerns.

We offer a range of supportive therapies that can reduce stress and help you feel better physically and emotionally. You can book these with us at any point during your fertility treatment.

Are there any risks or side effects?

The risks of artificial insemination without hormone stimulation are very low. By using ultra-soft and very flexible catheters, it is virtually always possible to avoid injuring the uterus during insemination.

If hormone treatment is performed before the procedure, it is possible that a multiple pregnancy may occur. However, thanks to the ultrasound scan carried out before insemination, the number and size of the egg follicles can be easily detected and the risk of multiple pregnancy can therefore be estimated relatively reliably. If there are several large follicles, the patient is informed about this, and the cycle is terminated if necessary to avoid a higher risk of multiple pregnancy.

Furthermore, the hormone preparations can also put a strain on the body. In very rare cases, hyperstimulation syndrome can occur. This can cause nausea, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath or fluid accumulation in the abdomen, for example. These complications are rare – the doctor will individually explain the treatment to you along with any possible risks and side effects during your consultation before the treatment.

How long does an IUI cycle last?

A typical IUI cycle for a woman lasts around four weeks. As we always tailor the treatment to your individual needs, this time frame can vary.

We will discuss in detail how long the individual phases will take for you and answer any questions you may have about the process and preparation.

If you are a woman who needs a sperm donor, we can match you with a suitable donor from our own sperm bank.

If you choose to donate sperm from another provider, we can give you lots of helpful advice and guidance.

Sperm donation is suitable for you if:

  • You are a female couple who want to have a child
  • Your partner has a low sperm count, his sperm have poor motility (do not move normally) or do not produce sperm at all
  • you are a single woman who wants to have a child. You may be eligible for treatment at certain clinics in Germany

We offer this service in:

Talk to a specialist for IUI

Get all the answers to your questions about insemination and the desire to have children in an initial consultation with our fertility experts.