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IUI vs. IVF: What’s the Difference?

Vicken Sahakian
02 Mar 2017

Two of the most common fertility treatments are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). If you are struggling to have a baby naturally, you may be considering your fertility treatment options. 

Naturally, you probably have some questions about what each of these treatments can do and how they vary. At Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles, CA, our doctors can guide you through the differences between IUI and IVF procedures in helping you decide which option is best for you.

The Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Procedure

During an IUI (or artificial insemination) procedure, the intended father's sperm is inserted one or two times into the intended mother or surrogate's uterus in the days following her ovulation.

By injecting the sperm directly into the uterus, IUI increases the chances of the sperm and egg meeting to create a fertilized embryo. The use of higher concentrations of quality sperm also increases the possibility of a successful conception and pregnancy.

Pros and Cons of IUI

IUIs are often chosen because they are less time consuming and are typically less expensive than IVF. During the IUI procedure, the male partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm is inserted directly into the uterus. The process coincides with the female partner’s ovulation.

Intrauterine insemination is typically recommended for women under age 35 as women in this age range have a higher success rate than over 35 demographics. Women at age 40 or over have the lowest success rate with IUI, with just about a 5% chance.

It’s also important to note that because IUI may be combined with the use of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries, the risk of multiple births (twins or more) is greater.

Often, women opt for two to three rounds of IUI before attempting in vitro fertilization if the IUIs are unsuccessful.

The In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Procedure

In vitro fertilization is one of the most popular and successful fertility treatment methods. As previously mentioned, if three or more rounds of IUI fail, our doctors recommend trying IVF. With this method, fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries, which stimulates the production of more than one egg at a time.

Once matured, the eggs are retrieved and fertilized with sperm in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus. Once this embryo transfer procedure is complete, the embryos may attach to the uterine wall, resulting in a pregnancy.

Why intended parents use IVF

In general, IVF has higher success rates than IUI. It is the most highly recommended method for women over the age of 40.

Additionally, IVF gives your fertility doctor and the intended parents more have over the number of embryos transferred into the uterus, which lowers the risk of multiple births.

However, IVF requires more fertility medications, and has more associated costs. The IVF procedure is more expensive than artificial insemination, so consulting with your fertility specialist given your unique source of infertility will be necessary to determine whether IVF or IUI are right for you. 

How to Decide Between IVF and IUI

The best way to determine whether IUI or IVF is right for you is to consult with one of our fertility doctors at Pacific Fertility Center of Los Angeles. Ultimately, you may know the right decision for you, but doctors can provide expert recommendations based on your age, health, and the cause of your infertility. 

Typically, younger couples see more success with IUI, so they may be better candidates for the service. However, if fertilization is not successful and multiple rounds of IUI are needed, this service can become expensive. For this reason, it is important to weigh the costs, benefits, and risks before making your decision.

Find out Which Fertility Treatment is Right for You

If you have tried to have a baby for more than a year without success, it may be time to talk with a fertility expert. Contact our fertility center today to schedule a consultation so you can learn more about the differences between IUI and IVF fertility treatments.

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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