The fertility journey is full of emotions and hard decisions, leaving many couples feeling overwhelmed by the treatment options available to them. Two of the most common options are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Examining IUI vs IVF, each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. But which is right for you?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a treatment in which isolated sperm is placed directly inside a woman’s uterus close to the time of ovulation. The goal of an IUI is to increase the number of sperm that are able to reach and fertilize the egg. IUI is less expensive and less invasive than IVF.
The IUI Process
The IUI procedure has three basic steps:
- Ovulation induction and tracking: The woman is given medication that stimulates the ovaries to mature more than one egg during the cycle. Egg development is tracked with blood tests and ultrasound imaging. When ovulation is expected, the doctor will schedule the insemination procedure.
- Semen collection: On the day of the procedure, previously collected sperm is prepared in the lab to transfer directly to the uterus.
- Insemination: The doctor inserts a long flexible tube called a catheter into the vagina, through the cervical opening, and into the uterus. Once the catheter is in place, the sperm is pushed through the tube into the uterus.
Is IUI Right for Me?
IUI has many benefits but it isn’t right for everyone. Fertility specialists recommend IUI to couples in which male factor infertility, such as low sperm count or motility, is the issue. They may also suggest intrauterine insemination for women who have cervical disorders or a blockage that may prevent the sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes.
IUI Success Rates
Success rates for IUI cycles vary depending on the age of the patient, the cause of infertility, and the duration of infertility. Chances of success also change based on the fertility medications used for ovulation induction. If no fertility drugs are used, the success rate is much lower. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), there is a 20% chance of success with IUI. There is a 20% chance of success with IUI.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a minimally invasive procedure in which eggs are retrieved from the uterus and combined with sperm outside of the body for fertilization in a lab.
The IVF procedure has four basic steps:
- Ovulation Induction: As in IUI, in-vitro fertilization begins with ovulation induction. The female partner receives medications that stimulate the ovaries to develop more than one egg during a cycle. The doctor monitors the development of the eggs to determine when to retrieve them.
- Egg retrieval: The physician uses a needle connected to a suction device to retrieve the eggs, they are then taken to the lab to be incubated. The whole process takes about 20 minutes.
- Fertilization: A specialist called an embryologist chooses the healthy and mature eggs to mix with sperm to create embryos.
- Embryo Transfer: Transfers usually happen within five days of the egg retrieval. That gives the embryos time to mature and be tested for genetic diseases if necessary. With the patient under mild sedation, the physician inserts a catheter into the vagina, through the cervical opening, and into the uterus. A syringe containing one or more embryos is attached to the end of the catheter. The doctor places the embryos into the uterus using the syringe.
Is IVF Right For Me?
A fertility specialist may recommend IVF to treat several fertility issues. These include:
- Low ovarian reserve
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Ovulation disorders
- Ovarian failure
- Uterine fibroids
- Genetic disorders
- Maternal age
IVF Success Rates
Laurel Fertility is a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) and we report on the results of all of the cycles performed at our clinic. You can find a breakdown of Laurel Fertility Center’s success rates here. To find out if you are a good candidate for IVF, contact us for a consultation.
The Cost of IUI vs IVF
The overall cost of any ART procedure varies on a case-by-case basis. Your insurance plan may cover certain treatments, but if you don’t have coverage, the expense can be daunting. At Laurel Fertility, we always personalize treatment plans to suit your individual needs, including your budget. We also have financial resources that can make treatment more affordable.
Consult a Fertility Specialist
If you are still trying to decide between IUI vs IVF, the expert team at Laurel Fertility can help. Our board-certified reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists will work with you to decide which treatment plan is best for your specific needs. Call us at (415) 673-9199 or request an appointment for a consultation.