What Is the Difference between IUI and IVF?

IUI and IVF are two of the commonly used methods in order to help increase a couple’s chances for becoming pregnant. Determining the difference between IUI and IVF can help couples decide which option is best for them. IUI, also known as intrauterine insemination, is a procedure in which sperm is directly inserted into the uterus. The procedure is timed with the ovulation and can be done once ovulation is detected. Since the procedure deposits higher concentrations of sperm near where the egg is waiting, it helps increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

The IVF process is a little more complex. It involves a stimulating the ovaries in order to produce multiple eggs at once, then removing the eggs from the ovary. Once the eggs are removed, fertilization occurs in a lab and then the fertilized eggs are placed back into the uterus.

The risk of multiple babies increases with IUI because the fertility medication that is used to increase ovulation can lead to more eggs being ready for fertilization. Clinics will monitor follicles to try and prevent that from happening, but they can’t completely eliminate the risk. With IVF, many clinics will only transfer one embryo per cycle to avoid the risk of multiples. There is also a difference of time between these two procedures. IUI is a much shorter process, so if you are successful it can be a quicker way to have a child. Since there is a gap in the success rates, many women who are older might try IVF first, before having some failed cycles with IUI, in order to save time.

Is IUI Better than IVF?

In terms of success rates, IVF is better, but IUI can be a much cheaper option for couples. Determining which one is better will depend on a few different factors that apply to each couple.

Why Try IUI First?

It can make sense for couples to try IUI first if the woman has one unblocked fallopian tube, can ovulate properly with medication, has a good amount of healthy eggs, and has a normal uterine cavity. This treatment can be effective for those who have cervical issues, mild ovulation issues, or are using donor sperm due to a male factor infertility.

The process can also work for same sex couples. Females can use donor sperm and male couples can use their own sperm with a surrogate.

Why Go Straight to IVF?

Sometimes, it makes sense to go straight to IVF treatment. Going straight to IVF makes sense if the woman is over the age of 38, has blocked fallopian tubes, has a reduced ovarian reserve, or wants to use donor eggs. IVF also makes sense if you require genetic screening.

Same sex couples can also take advantage of IVF, in order to increase the chance of becoming pregnant.

IUI vs IVF Cost

One of the concerns about fertility treatments many couples have is the cost of both IUI and IFV. Generally, these procedures are not covered under insurance plans. IUI can be much cheaper than IVF. The average cost of IVF can be between $11,000 and $15,000 per cycle.

IUI and IVF Success Rates

The success of both procedures can depend on the age of the woman, the cause of the infertility, and other factors. The average success rate for IUI using a fertility medicine, such as Clomid, is 8-15% per cycle for patients who are under the age of 35. That number drops to only 2-5% for patients who are over the age of 40. For IVF, the numbers are much higher. The success rate ranges from 40-45% for patients who are under 35 and it drops to 15% for patients who are over 42.

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