Insemination: ICI, IUI, IVF or ICSI? What to choose?


Thinking of having a baby through artificial insemination?
​Perhaps you have already talked to your doctor and have been told about the many options – and now you cannot tell one from the other.

For most people, this is new territory and yes, it can be confusing.
So here we have listed the four most common insemination options for those women, who wants to get pregnant with the help from a sperm donor.

​​We begin with the least technical procedure and work our way up, so to speak. 


ICI or Intra-Cervical Insemination
This procedure uses a flexible catheter or device to insert unwashed sperm directly into the cervix – that’s the area behind the vagina, just in front of the uterus.
This procedure can be done at home (so-called Home insemination) or at a fertility clinic, and it is typically the easiest and least expensive method of insemination. It also most closely replicates natural conception.

​Which kind of donor sperm to use?
For the ICI procedure, unwashed or ICI-ready donor sperm is recommended. Remember that ”unwashed” does not mean dirty or untested: ICI-ready semen is still screened and tested for bacteria and STDs
​ ​
IUI, or Intra-Uterine Insemination
For this procedure, a flexible catheter is used to insert prewashed sperm directly into the uterus. This provides a better chance of reaching the fallopian tubes and thus the egg. This procedure is recommended to be performed at a fertility clinic.

​Which kind of donor sperm to use?
IUI-ready sperm should be used for this type of insemination, as unwashed donor sperm placed directly into the uterus may cause anaphylactic shock. “Washing” means that the seminal fluid has been removed along with dead or disqualified sperm cells.
​​The liquid is replaced with a cryo-preservative fluid to protect the sperm cells in the freezing process. This means that IUI-ready sperm is ready for use, and does not need further processing before insemination.


IVF or In Vitro Fertilization
With this method of assisted reproduction, the fertilisation of the egg happens in a laboratory. An egg is plucked from the woman and placed in a laboratory dish with the sperm.

​The sperm then spontaneously fertilises the egg in the dish. Normally, this takes between 1-10 hours. The fertilised egg is then placed back into the woman’s uterus to develop.

Which kind of donor sperm to use?

Both types of donor sperm may be used.


ICSI or Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
This is the most technical procedure of the four: The procedure is similar to the IVF in all aspects except one crucial step: One single, carefully selected sperm cell is manually injected into the very middle of the egg using a tiny needle.

This procedure is normally only necessary in cases with severe male infertility or when the number of eggs available is very low or difficult to fertilise.

Which kind of donor sperm to use?
Both types of donor sperm may be used.
Want more information?
It is always best to consult with a doctor or fertility professional before making a final decision. Your choice of treatment also depends on many physical factors such as your age and health.

You are of course also welcome to ask us any questions you may have. Some of the answers may be available already at our website If not, do not hesitate to email or call us.

We are here to help you!

//posted by Michael. Communications specialist at European Sperm Bank