Two commonly used methods of assisted reproductive treatments; intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) may help increase a couple’s chance of becoming pregnant.
What is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that involves placing of sperms inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. It usually only requires the insertion of a speculum and then the cannula. This fertility treatment does not involve the manipulation of a woman’s eggs–hence, it is less invasive. IUI aims to increase the number of sperms that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increases the chances of fertilization.
What is IVF?
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or “test tube baby” involves removing eggs surgically using a needle and fertilizing them outside of the woman’s body. If fertilization occurs, an embryo will be formed and transferred into the mother’s womb. The remaining excess of good quality embryos may be frozen and cryogenically stored for future use in a procedure called – frozen embryo transfer which can be used for next pregnancies.
Key differences between IUI and IVF
Comparing both options can help you determine which approach might be best for you and your partner. The main difference between IUI and IVF is the number of eggs the female produced and the place of fertilization.
With an IUI, a woman is only supposed to develop one or two eggs. Sperms are deposited within the uterus and requires natural fertilization to take place. In IVF, a woman is given more medications to increase her egg storage, ideally about 15 mature eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovaries, fertilized and developed in a lab and subsequently put back into the uterus as an early-stage embryo.
An IUI is less invasive in which it can be done with no medications or a number of different medications to help develop and ovulate one or two eggs. When the ovulation day of the woman is confirmed, sperms will be deposited inside the uterus for insemination. This greatly increases the number of sperm at the junction of the uterus and fallopian tubes, the distance they have to swim to meet the egg, and thus increases the chances of natural conception for many people.
An IVF is considered more invasive than IUI in which medications are usually taken for around 10 days to grow a large number of eggs. Once developed, a procedure takes place where the eggs are removed from the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized in a lab–hence why they are called “test tube babies”. After growing for a few days in the lab, an embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus.
An IUI helps address infertility in two main ways, which are i) through egg quality and ovulation, in which medications are given to help grow and ovulate one or two mature eggs (some women may not ovulate otherwise). ii) sperm quality; IUI puts sperms much closer to the egg therefore increasing the number of sperms that can reach the fallopian tube by 1000 times.
On the other hand, IVF solve infertility in several ways which are by retrieving eggs before ovulation, bypassing the fallopian tubes issues where eggs are removed from the ovaries and the embryos are put back directly into the uterus completely, injecting one healthy sperm directly into the egg, numerous medications given to optimize uterine receptivity and the timing of an embryo transfer, reducing the odds of miscarriage through genetic testing and reproductive immunology, using medication to mature a large number of eggs, mature eggs, and high-quality eggs, as well as baby gender selection.
Both IUI and IVF procedures are safe, and the risks are minimal. Proper monitoring, medication choice and dosage, and general care greatly reduce the risks and side effects.
Time to Pregnancy:
IVF has a much faster time to pregnancy due to it’s higher success rate per cycle. For those under 35, success rates are generally around 50% per treatment. IUIs generally have a success rate of around 5-20% per cycle. If an IUI is to be successful, it most often happens in the first three or four treatment cycles.
IUI particularly helps male impotency such as premature ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation and low sperm count. While IVF helps female infertility such as blocked fallopian tubes, lack of ovulation and minor male infertility