What is the Difference Between IVF and IUI?

What is the Difference Between IVF and IUI?

When couples who are having trouble conceiving decide to undergo fertility treatments, they may have questions about the different treatment options and what options may be best for them.

Two reproductive treatments that are commonly used to help couples who need fertility assistance, include:

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), sperm is placed directly into the uterus using a small catheter.
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF), eggs are surgically removed from the ovary using a needle that goes through the vagina, and those eggs are fertilized outside of the body.

A fertility specialist will complete a diagnosis and advise you on potential treatment options based on the results of those tests. Your fertility specialist can also provide you with an estimated chance of conception success, either naturally or with each type of treatment.

There are key differences between IUI and IVF treatment. Comparing both options can help you determine which approach might be best for you and your partner.

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination, often called IUI, is an office-based fertility treatment that places sperm directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation. IUI assists sperm in traveling to the egg for fertilization by placing it high in the uterine cavity, past the vagina and cervix. A speculum is placed into the vagina and a small catheter containing the sperm is placed through the cervix and deposited at the top of the uterus. IUI is often the first treatment individuals, and couples receive for infertility due to its ease, affordability, and efficacy in treating several causes of infertility, including unexplained infertility, mild-to-moderate male factor infertility, mild endometriosis, and anovulation (the absence of ovulation) as well as for women wishing to use donor sperm to conceive. IUI is not an option or women with blocked tubes.

Reproductive endocrinologists can perform IUI in cases where a woman has produced eggs through her own menstrual cycle or with the help of ovulation-inducing medications.

What is IVF?

IVF (in vitro fertilization) is an infertility treatment that combines sperm and egg(s) to achieve fertilization outside of the body in our laboratory.

The resulting embryo (fertilized egg) is then transferred into the uterus. IVF offers the highest rate of success out of all treatment options for infertility, but it may not be the best option for every couple or individual. Due to its complexity, IVF is often the costliest treatment.

What are the Biggest Differences between IUI and IVF?

The are key differences between IUI and IVF.

In intrauterine insemination, IUI fertilization takes place internally as the sperm is placed directly into the woman’s uterus. When fertilization is successful, the embryo implants in the uterus.

With IVF, fertilization takes place externally in a lab. The sperm and the egg are combined for fertilization and after this process, one or more of these successfully fertilized eggs would be placed in the woman’s uterus.

IVF has higher success rates than IUI. However, IUI is considerably less expensive than IVF and less invasive. IVF offers benefits for severe male infertility and the ability to test embryos for genetic defects prior to transfer of the embryo into the uterus. It is generally recommended that couples try three rounds of IUI before moving on to IVF, unless the cause of fertility issues are blocked tubes or severe male infertility.

To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.

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Your fertility plan should be too.