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What’s the Difference Between IUI and IVF?

Difference Between IUI and IVF; Doctor in fertility clinic counseling couple in reproductive issues

When it comes to fertility treatments there are several options to consider based on you and your partner’s specific needs. Carolinas Fertility Institute offers both intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro insemination (IVF). Some people are more familiar with one term over the other, often without knowing the difference between the two or what either treatment entails. While it’s important to talk about your specific case with your fertility specialists, you should get to know the difference between IUI and IVF.

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, is a simple procedure that is performed in office. The doctor places sperm, that was previously collected and processed in the lab, into the uterine cavity. Before insertion, the lab “washes” the sperm by removing seminal fluid and concentrating the sperm.

IUI can be performed with the assistance of fertility treatments to increase ovulation function or performed during the woman’s natural ovulation. Over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits can be used to determine when the woman is ovulating.

The sperm is placed higher into the uterine cavity so it bypasses the cervix, making the trip through the fallopian tubes shorter. This increases the number of sperm that has a chance of meeting the egg.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment, or assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure, in which a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined outside the woman’s body in a lab.

Before the fertilization can take place, the woman takes fertility medication to stimulate the ovaries to assist in successful egg retrieval. The egg retrieval is performed under sedation and insemination is performed the same day.

After the fertilization, the embryo is monitored carefully to determine when transfer to the uterus should be made.

What are the Biggest Differences between IUI and IVF?

The key difference between IUI and IVF is that in IUI, fertilization takes place internally. That is, the sperm is injected directly into the woman’s uterus. So, if fertilization is successful, the embryo implants there as well.

With IVF, fertilization takes place externally, or outside of the uterus, 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. Ideally, the fertilized egg would then implant in the lining of the uterus, resulting in pregnancy and delivery of a full-term baby or babies.

IVF has higher success rates than IUI. Artificial insemination is considerably less expensive than IVF and less invasive. It is generally recommended that couples try three rounds of IUI before moving on to IVF.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) states that the IVF success rate in the US for women of all ages is about 30% but increases if the woman is under the age of 35.

What do IUI and IVF Have in Common?

IVF and IUI have a few factors in common, and they mostly have to do with preparing for treatment and the basic processes of human conception.

Before insemination or fertilization, both IUI and IVF may include a regimen of fertility drugs to increase success rates in fertilization or in the case of IVF, to assist in ovulation and aid in egg retrieval. Also, both treatments can include processes to isolate the highest quality sperm from provided samples for use in fertilization.

For both IVF and IUI to be successful, an egg must be fertilized and then implant in the lining of the uterus and develop into a full-term infant, or multiple infants. That’s pretty much the bare bones version of the internal mechanics of human conception.

What Makes You a Candidate for IUI vs IVF and Vice Versa?

As discussed before, IUI, or artificial insemination, is the more common fertility treatment. Other than the fact that it is often the first treatment many people try, this is because it is less invasive and fertilization happens internally, not in a lab. Because of this, artificial insemination requires working ovaries, viable eggs and fallopian tubes and availability of 5-10 motile sperm after the ejaculate of the male partner is processed.

If you or your partner don’t meet the requirements for IUI, then you might consider IVF. IVF is used for many types of infertility, including problems with the uterus, tubal issues, endometriosis, age factors, low sperm count and/or motility, unexplained infertility, and others. IVF can also be ideal for those looking to use donor eggs or use a surrogate.

Contact Carolinas Fertility Institute

Carolinas Fertility Institute is proud to have high success rates through IVF at our clinic.

To discuss your options in regards to fertility treatments, call Carolinas Fertility Institute at 336-448-9100, or schedule an appointment by filling out this contact form. We can help you start or expand your family in the way that’s right for you.