What is the difference between IUI and IVF?
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IUI AND IVF?
IUI is an intrauterine (inside the uterus) insemination. This is done by inserting a thin catheter through the vagina and into the uterus via the cervix. The semen (either donor semen or your partner's semen) is injected through the catheter into the uterus. This allows us to help the sperm cells find their way to the egg inside the uterus, and hopefully the egg will become fertilised.
IVF stands for In-Vitro Fertilisation – fertilisation outside of the body; namely in the laboratory. We use hormones to stimulate the ovaries, so that more eggs are formed than in a normal menstrual cycle. The eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised in the laboratory, either using donor sperm or your partner's sperm. The fertilised eggs (embryos) are returned to the uterus, where they adhere to the uterus and result in pregnancy.
HOW DO WE DECIDE WHICH TYPE OF TREATMENT IS BEST?
Our treatment team will evaluate your options and advise you on what type of treatment is best. There are a number of parameters that are significant to our evaluation, including your age, blood test results and scan results, the quality of your partner's sperm, your fertility history and the type of treatment you would prefer to undergo.
CAN I BEGIN WITH IVF, WITHOUT TRYING IUI FIRST?
It is not necessary to undergo a course of IUI before undergoing IVF. We will give you advice on what type of treatment is best based on a number of different parameters. As IUI is a less costly and less invasive treatment than IVF, some women prefer trying IUI before then proceeding with IVF. We will be happy to follow your wishes provided that they make sense in relation to the various parameters in place, such as your age and hormone test results. We do not want you to undergo multiple IUI attempts if the likelihood of a pregnancy occurring is minimal.
CAN I SWITCH BETWEEN IUI AND IVF DURING A SINGLE COURSE OF TREATMENT?
Yes, this is possible, and there are many different reasons why both are a good idea. For example, if you undergo hormone stimulation in preparation for IVF treatment but ultimately do not form more than 1–2 eggs, then we might recommend IUI for this cycle instead. This is always something we will discuss with you, and you will ultimately be the one to make the final decision.
WHEN IS IVF PREFERRED OVER IUI?
In some cases we recommend starting with IVF treatments directly. This may be the case if:
- One or both fallopian tubes are closed
- The woman has been sterilised
- The woman has had pregnancies outside the uterus
- The woman has already undergone several IUI attempts without these resulting in pregnancy
- The woman has a low AMH, but we still consider that there is a potential for stimulation
- The partner's sperm is of low quality
WHEN IS IVF NOT ADVISABLE?
IVF is not advisable during a hormone stimulated cycle if:
- The woman has a very low AMH
- The woman has attempted IVF multiple times during a hormone stimulated cycle without follicle formation
In these cases, we either recommend IVF in a natural or naturally modified cycle, or IUI.
WHY IS IVF MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IUI?
The laboratory techniques used in IVF are much more advanced and also more expensive than those we use for IUI. IVF requires specialised and certified staff who can advise you about hormone stimulation and who are able to treat your eggs correctly in the laboratory. IVF also requires more advice and planning and this means that our gynaecologists need to be involved as well.