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Infertility can be defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular unprotected intercourse (for patients 35 and under) and six months for women over 35. Its prevalence in the US is about 15 percent according to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The good news is that there are several ways to treat it, although there are no guarantees.
If you are looking for fertility treatment, you (and your partner, if applicable) have several options depending on your situation. In vitro insemination (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are some of the most common fertility treatments provided in infertility clinics.
A lot of people are familiar with these treatments without necessarily knowing the difference between them and what they entail. Here is what you need to know about IUI and IVF.
What Is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be understood as a fertility treatment in which an egg and sperm (either from the intended parents or from a donor) are combined outside the woman's body — specifically, in a fertility lab.
The intended mother (or donor) has to take fertility medication to stimulate the ovaries before the egg can be retrieved. The egg is then combined with the sperm, and, after fertilization, the embryo is monitored carefully before it is implanted in the womb.
What Is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment in which the doctor places sperm directly into the uterine cavity.
Before the sperm is inserted into the uterine cavity, it is washed to remove the seminal fluid.
Insertion can be performed when a woman is naturally ovulating. Alternatively, a woman may have to receive fertility treatment to enhance ovulation function.
By placing the sperm higher into the uterus, the journey the sperm has to make to the fallopian tubes is significantly shortened, and this increases the number of sperm that meets the egg, which consequently increases the chances of a successful conception.
Studies have shown the IUI increases the chances of a successful pregnancy by at least 300 percent (opposed to no fertility treatment) according to the National Library of Medicine.
What Are the Main Differences Between IVF and IUI?
The main difference between IVF and IUI is that in IVF, fertilization happens outside a woman's body, while in IUI, fertilization happens inside a woman's body.
Studies have shown that IVF is more successful compared to IUI. However, because IVF is a more complicated treatment, it happens to be more expensive than IUI. This is why experts often recommend that couples undergo at least three rounds of IUI before deciding to move on to IVF. That being said, each individual has a different medical history, and a personalized protocol will be established.
How Can You Determine Which Treatment Option Is Right for You?
There are various treatments for infertility offered. Two of the most common and successful are IVF and IUI.
Depending on your situation, your doctor should guide you on the right treatment to go for. This decision will likely be made determining a series of factors, including your medical and infertility history and other test results (which can be determined by an in-depth fertility evaluation). At Reproductive Fertility, we have a team of experts who will treat you with respect and support you emotionally throughout the process.