IUI vs. IVF: Choosing the Right Fertility Treatment for Your Needs
When considering fertility care to start or grow your family, you’ll likely undergo intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Both fertility treatments are commonly performed and highly recommended by doctors. While beneficial, they may not be appropriate for everyone, so you and your partner (if applicable) should thoroughly explore them early on in your journey. A comprehensive fertility evaluation will enable you and your fertility specialist to figure out which is the best option for your unique needs.
A Summary of the IUI Process
IUI, or artificial insemination, is often the first fertility treatment attempted. The process isn’t new, with the first documented human application of IUI performed by John Hunter, the “founder of scientific surgery,” in London in the 1770s. IUI involves sperm being placed into a woman’s uterus while she is ovulating, which boosts the sperm’s chance of reaching the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg, as they travel a shorter time and distance.
IUI is an efficient, minimally invasive, and convenient process for becoming pregnant. Many LGBTQ+ families/couples undergo IUI, as do people with health concerns involving:
- Sperm count and quality
- Unexplained infertility
- Ovulatory conditions
- Cervical conditions
However, IUI is not right for everyone. For women and men with certain health problems, like fallopian tube disorders or sperm function issues, IUI may not be recommended.
The IVF Process: An Overview and Benefits
Human IVF was first successfully performed in 1978 in England with the birth of Louise Joy Brown; the first American birth via IVF occurred a few years later in 1981. Since then, IVF has led to millions of births worldwide, making it the most common ART technique.
With IVF, healthy, mature eggs and sperm are combined outside of the parents’ bodies in a laboratory; once an embryo (or embryos) has formed, it’s placed into the recipient’s uterus. Over the years, IVF has become simpler, safer, and even more effective. While not for everyone, it may benefit same-sex couples using donor eggs or sperm, along with women or men with specific health-related issues. Among these are:
- Diminished ovarian reserve (poor egg quality or a lack of healthy eggs)
- Fertility issues involving ovulation or the uterus
- A lack of fallopian tubes, or tubal disease untreatable with surgery
- A male factor contributing to infertility, like low sperm count
- Genetic diseases leading to pregnancy loss
- Unexplained infertility not responding to other treatments
Generally, with healthy women under 35 years old, IVF may achieve an almost 50% pregnancy rate. For other candidates, certain factors may determine effectiveness, such as how they’ve fared in previous attempts. Other factors may include a woman’s age when using her own eggs (success rates fall starting in the mid-thirties), and the number and quality of transferred embryos.
The Importance of Comprehensive Fertility Evaluations
Whether IUI or IVF, you and your partner (if applicable) will first undergo comprehensive fertility evaluations. The first step in your fertility journey, these tests allow reproductive endocrinologists to identify any obstacles in their earliest stages, improving treatment success. This is also a great opportunity to voice any questions or concerns.
You can expect a thorough review of your medical and family histories, blood tests, physical evaluations, and multiple diagnostic infertility tests. Among the tests for women are a uterine cavity study and a sonohysterogram, involving an ultrasound examination of the inside of the uterus. Men will undergo such tests as semen analysis, which helps to determine the number and quality of his sperm.
Consider All Factors With Fertility Treatment Selection
IUI and IVF have helped many families, leading to healthy pregnancies. While both procedures have their benefits, you, your partner, and your fertility doctor should discuss which will lead to your best outcomes. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or you have general fertility questions, please contact Chelsea Fertility NYC today.