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Comparing IUI to IVF Treatment

If you’re among the 10-15% of couples facing issues with fertility, you’re greeted with a host of options that range from wait-and-see to procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). 

Choosing which fertility treatment avenue is right for you depends on a host of factors, and we explore some of them here.

At NOVA IVF, our team of fertility specialists wants to ensure that our patients make informed decisions when it comes to creating the families of their dreams.

To that end, we’ve pulled together a comparison between two of the more common fertility treatments — IVF and IUI.

IVF and IUI at a glance

Before we get into comparing IVF and IUI, let’s quickly review the two different approaches to infertility.

With IVF,  we stimulate your ovaries, retrieve the eggs, fertilize them in our lab, and then implant the embryos into the uterus. While we're oversimplifying here, our goal is to demonstrate that IVF is a multi-step process that bypasses the natural insemination and fertilization processes in order to give you the best chances for success.

With IUI, we collect the sperm from the male, clean and process it, and place it directly into the uterus, where it needs to make only a small journey to fertilize an egg. To increase the chances of success, we may recommend medications to increase ovulation or you can simply follow the natural fertility cycle and insert the sperm during the peak ovulation period.

As you can see, the primary difference between the two is that we ensure fertilization through IVF while IUI only increases the chances of fertilization by closing the distance between the egg and the sperm.

Which approach is right for you?

The numbers surrounding infertility issues in the United States are quite large, and the problem seems to be evenly divided. To wit, in a third of infertility cases, the problem lies in the woman, in another third with the man, and, in the final third, with both or for reasons unknown.

This means that the first step in determining which fertility option is right for you is for us to root out the source of the problem, if we can. 

For example, if we find that something is blocking sperm from making their normal journeys (a blocked fallopian tube, for example), that may favor IUI because we can bypass the problem by injecting the sperm directly into the uterus.

In another scenario, let’s say that the problem lies in the ovulation process. Through IVF, we first use medications to stimulate your ovaries so that we have a good number of viable eggs to work with. 

Next, we harvest the eggs directly from your ovaries, inseminate them outside of your uterus, and then implant the embryos into your uterus. With IVF, we not only bypass the trajectories that eggs and sperm need to make in order to connect, we also solve the fertilization riddle.

IVF and IUI by the numbers

If you want to compare success rates between IVF and IUI, let’s take a closer look. With the IVF procedures we perform here at our practice, we achieve a 25-65% probability of a live birth for every in vitro fertilization cycle in women under the age of 35.

When it comes to IUI, women under the age of 35 have a 10-15% chance of getting pregnant with just one cycle.

While clearly IVF produces the better chances for success, many couples try IUI first since it’s relatively easy and then move on to IVF should IUI prove unsuccessful.

If you have more questions about IVF or IUI, please don't hesitate to contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.

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