IUI vs. IVF: Pros and Cons
When it comes to building your family, not all fertility treatments are created equal. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has come a long way since the first successful birth 40 years ago, and two of the most common – and most confused – procedures are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and the more commonly referenced in vitro fertilization (IVF). We’ll break down the process, as well as the pros and cons, for both.
The difference between IUI and IVF is actually quite broad – in fact, there are few similarities between them other than the end goal of a pregnancy.
What is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) utilizes a catheter to transfer sperm – either the intended father’s or a donor’s – directly into the intended mother’s uterus. The process can technically be done with a surrogate, but this is rare because it would make her the biological mother. It can be done without medication, though fertility drugs like Gonadotropin or clomiphene are often used to induce ovulation and increase the number of eggs available.
Monitoring is done in the days leading up to the IUI to confirm the eggs have matured. A semen sample is provided so that it can be washed, separating the semen from the seminal fluid to maximize the number of sperm cells available for fertilization.
IUI Pros and Cons
- It’s a far less invasive process than IVF and may require little (if any) medication.
- It takes only a few minutes and there is very little discomfort.
- It is a relatively inexpensive procedure; without insurance, an IUI cycle is typically around $800. Monitoring and medication costs vary.
- The chances of getting pregnant with IUI are, unfortunately, fairly low – success rates can reach as high as 20%, but only when factoring age, diagnosis and whether fertility drugs were used.
- The risk of multiples is much higher. Because there is little control over how many eggs develop, it’s difficult to guarantee how many will ultimately fertilize.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is more complex than IUI. The intended mother’s eggs or a donor’s eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, combined with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm in a lab, and the resulting embryos are then transferred to the intended mother’s or a surrogate’s uterus.
IVF Pros and Cons
- Depending on the woman’s circumstances, the per-cycle IVF success rate is very high at 40% (natural conception has a per-cycle success rate closer to 20-35%).
- It allows for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT).
- 15 states currently mandate fertility coverage, including IVF, which helps absorb the cost of treatment.
- The medication required to stimulate the production of the woman’s eggs may have side effects, including headaches, mood swings and rashes.
- One cycle can cost upwards of $12,000 without insurance.
Without question, the success rate of IVF is what makes it the most popular form of assisted reproduction. Under the IVF umbrella fall egg donation and gestational surrogacy as well, which makes it an even more sought-after means of family building.
We know that you likely have many questions about what is the best option for you, and we’re here to assist. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you navigate the world of ART.