What’s the difference between IUI and IVF, and which is better?
Many patients want to compare IUI vs. IVF. The truth is, there’s no one simple answer of which procedure is “better.” There are financial and logistical differences between the two procedures, and they are recommended for different situations. Here’s an intro guide to the differences between IUI and IVF.
What Is IUI?
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. A concentrated sperm sample is sent through a small catheter directly into the uterus, bypassing the cervix. The goal of IUI is to increase the chances of sperm reaching an egg to fertilize it. To maximize chances of success, IUI involves closely monitoring the patient’s ovulation, with either at-home testing or in-clinic ultrasounds or hormone tests. IUI can be done with or without fertility medication, depending on your doctor’s recommendation. IUI is a quick and simple in-office procedure, usually only taking about 5-10 minutes.
What Is IVF?
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, involves retrieving an egg and sperm, then combining them in a lab to create an embryo. This embryo is transferred to the uterus, where it hopefully implants as a pregnancy. The IVF process has several different options, including:
- types of fertility medications
- fresh vs. cryopreserved (frozen) eggs and/or embryos
- fertilization method
- genetic embryo screenings
Typically, an IVF patient takes some form of hormone medication to stimulate the ovaries and produce several eggs for retrieval. Alternatively, patients can use a donor egg and/or sperm. An IVF cycle can last 4-8 weeks from starting medication to final implantation, depending on the chosen methods.
Success Rates of IUI vs. IVF
Overall, IVF has a significantly higher success rate than IUI. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the national average success rate for all types of IVF is around 30%. For women under 35 years old, the average success rate jumps up to 50%. Genetic screening of embryos may increase success rates to 60-70%, depending on several different factors.
IUI has significantly lower success rates per cycle. It’s hard to pin down an exact rate, as there are lots of different factors that can affect success. Generally, success rates range from 5-20%. As with IVF, chances for success with IUI are highest for women under 35 years old.
Which Is More Expensive Between IUI vs. IVF?
Just as IVF is more successful than IUI, it is also significantly more expensive. IUI costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $2,000 per cycle, depending on the clinic, any medications used, and other factors. On the other hand, a single IVF cycle often costs between $15,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on medications and additional processes like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or embryonic genetic screening.
Both IUI and IVF may require multiple cycles to become pregnant. This is especially true for IUI, with its lower success rates. Often, after three failed IUI cycles, your fertility specialist may recommend that you try IVF instead.
So, Is IVF Better Than IUI?
There’s no one best choice when it comes to IUI vs. IVF. It depends on your unique situation. Once you’ve gone through diagnostic testing and discussed your history and reproductive goals, you should discuss treatment options with your fertility specialist. There are some general guidelines for recommending IUI vs. IVF:
IUI may be recommend for individuals/couples who:
- Have unexplained infertility
- Are using donor sperm or previously frozen sperm
- Have mild male factor infertility (ex. low sperm counts)
- Face challenges with intercourse (sexual dysfunction)
IVF may be recommended for individuals/couples who have:
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Severe endometriosis
- Significant male factor infertility (ex. very low sperm count or motility)
- Low quantity and quality of eggs
- Been unsuccessful with IUI treatment
Still Have Questions About IUI vs. IVF? We’re Here to Help!
Your fertility journey is unique, and your treatment plan should be just as individualized. Our team of expert fertility specialists will work with you to figure out the best treatment options for you. Whether that’s IUI, IVF, or other fertility treatments, we can help you chart your path to parenthood. For more information, make an appointment with us today.