fertility treatments

Difference between IVF and IUI

  • 4.5   (1 Votes)

Difference between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are the two most common infertility procedures. The success of IUI and IVF largely depends on several factors like womans age, reason for infertility, doctors experience and fertility drugs used. When it comes to having a baby, not all fertility treatments are created equal. Two of the most common and confused infertility procedures are Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IUI and IVF are the most effective procedures to increase a couples chance of conceiving. The array of fertility treatment options available can be overwhelming but not all treatments are suitable for everyone. In fertility treatments, the path you eventually take will be unique to your case of infertility.

In this article, we will look at:    

1. What is the difference between IUI and IVF?
2. Is IUI more successful than IVF?
3. Is IUI cheaper than IVF?
4. What are the risks of multiples in IVF?
5. When should I try IUI first?
6. What are the conditions treated through IVF?

The difference between IUI and IVF is actually quite broad; in fact, there are few similarities between them other than achieving pregnancy. Understanding the differences between IUI and IVF will give you an idea to begin your conversations with one of our fertility experts and help you choose the exact procedure for your treatment. Here’s what you need to know, 

 1. What is the difference between IUI and IVF?

Couples seeking fertility treatment often prefer to start with IUI as it is seen as a less invasive procedure than IVF. The treatment involves the insertion of prepared sperms directly into the woman’s uterus close to the time of ovulation, via a thin catheter. This is typically synchronized with ovulation induction drugs, but can also be done on a natural cycle. (1) (2)

On the other hand, IVF is a process which consists of several stages and requires more than one procedure. On the first stage, the ovaries are stimulated using a series of fertility medications, next the patient undergoes egg retrieval which is performed with a small incision under a mild anesthetic. After the embryos have been created and developed to a certain stage in a lab, they are placed directly into the woman’s uterus in the Embryo Transfer (ET)  procedure. Moreover, an IVF treatment requires the expertise of an embryologist as well as high-technology laboratory equipment for the cultivation of embryos. The procedure gets more complex if genetic testing is required. (3) (4)

 2. Is IUI more successful than IVF?

Before differentiating the success rate, one must keep in mind that the success of IUI and IVF largely depends on several factors like woman’s age, the reason for infertility, doctor’s experience, and fertility drugs used. With IUI treatment, women under 35 have 10 to 15 percent chance of getting pregnant on the first cycle.  (5) (8)

Following are the success rates per couple according to the cause of infertility: 

  • 55.6 percent for cervical factor infertility
  • 47.4 percent for anovulation (problems with ovulation)
  • 41.7 percent for male factor infertility
  • 37.6 percent for oligospermia (less than 20 million sperm per ml)
  • 35.1 percent for unexplained infertility
  • 13.4 percent for asthenospermia (poor sperm motility)
  • 10.7 percent for endometriosis

With IVF treatment using a woman’s own eggs, the average success rates range from 45 percent to 50 percent for patients under 35 years old, which increase with age. The success rates can go up even higher, within the 60 to 70 percent range, when the embryos are genetically tested and selected before transfer. Success rates for both procedures drop tremendously for women over 40 years, who are using their own eggs.

The following are the success rate on the first cycle of IVF treatment according to women’s age:

  • Younger than 35 years, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 54.4 percent.
  • Ages 35 to 37 years, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval are 42 percent.
  • Ages 38 to 40 years, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval are 26.6 percent.
  • Ages 41 to 42 years, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval are 13.3 percent.
  • Ages 43 and up years the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 3.9 percent.

 3. Is IUI cheaper than IVF?

The factors of time and money are both ways when comparing IUI versus IVF. A single round of IUI is a much shorter process than a single IVF cycle, so if your first cycle is successful, it could be the quickest route to bringing home a baby. However, usually, a couple has to undergo three or four IUI cycles to achieve the same success rate that may have been achieved in a single cycle of IVF. From the perspective of cost, an IUI is typically cost 10 times less than the cost of a single IVF cycle. This is a serious consideration for many IVF patients, especially those whose insurance does not cover infertility treatment. Even though the cost of a single IUI is low, the costs can add up if multiple IUI cycles are required. Depending on your diagnosis and chances of conceiving through IUI, it may be more cost-effective to go directly to an IVF cycle rather than dealing with multiple failed IUI cycles. Unfortunately, as women age, eggs also age, and many patients find themselves in the dilemma of time versus money.  Due to the gap in success rates between the IVF and IUI treatments, some patients in their late 30s to early 40s may get pregnant faster by going directly to IVF rather than having several failed IUI cycles. (6)

 4. What are the risks of multiples in IVF?

Multiples can cause complications for both the mother and the babies. Many women undergoing IUI are given stimulating hormones or drugs to help induce ovulation. These medications can result in the release of more than one egg in a given cycle, which increases a couple’s chances of having twins or multiples. A good doctor will carefully monitor your follicles and the eggs to make sure that only a safe number is mature before the IUI, but still, the risk is not entirely eliminated. On the other hand, with genetic screening of embryos in IVF treatments, most modern fertility clinics now transfer only one embryo per IVF cycle. Only in certain circumstances, the doctor may decide to transfer two embryos into the uterus. The remaining embryos left from an IVF cycle are frozen so that they can be used in future treatments. (7)

 5. When should I try IUI first?

IUI can be an ideal first line of treatment for many patients, depending on their diagnosis and circumstances. This treatment is often very effective for a patient who (9):

  • Has at least one unblocked fallopian tube
  • Is able to ovulate with the help of fertility medication
  • Has a healthy ovarian reserve 
  • Has a normal uterine cavity

A patient may be a good candidate for trying IUI in the following conditions:

  • Cervical Issues: Hostile cervical mucus or scarring can prevent fertilization, and IUI provides a way to bypass these obstacles.
  • Mild Ovulation Issues: When used with fertility medications, IUI can help women with irregular ovulation cycles conceive
  • Donor Sperm: A patient or couple may use donor sperm with IUI to conceive.
  • Mild Male-Factor Infertility: By preparing a concentrate of healthy and active sperms samples in a lab and placing the sperm directly into the uterus can overcome sperm motility issues or impotence. 
  • After Male Fertility Preservation: Some men choose to freeze their sperm before cancer treatment or surgery which could impact their fertility. After surgery, assuming that the female partner is a good candidate, IUI can be used to achieve pregnancy.
  • Same Sex-Couples: Female couples may use donor sperm, and male couples may use their own sperm and a gestational surrogate.

 6. What are the conditions treated through IVF?

Some patients are likely to have better results by skipping IUI and beginning their fertility treatment with IVF. This is a choice each patient will have to decide for himself or herself, after consultation with their fertility specialist. IVF is a better option for patients who (10):

  • Are over the age of 38
  • Have blocked fallopian tubes
  • Have reduced ovarian reserve
  • Decide to use donor eggs
  • Suffer from advanced endometriosis
  • Are dealing with severe male-factor infertility which may require the use of advanced technologies such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
  • May require genetic screening

Whether you ultimately choose IUI or IVF, the first step is to contact OVO Fertility to find the ideal infertility doctor and clinic for your treatment. OVO Fertility can help you find the best doctor and clinic as per your treatment requirement. We have a vast list of reliable and verified doctors in the industry from which you can choose. Moreover, we also offer medical loans at zero percent interests. Book your free appointment now by calling us at +918268260808



  1. ^ The Difference Between IUI and IVF Reproductivefacts.org, 16 July 2019
  2. ^ Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) | American Pregnancy Americanpregnancy.org, 16 July 2019
  3. ^ What Is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)? | Planned Parenthood Plannedparenthood.org, 16 July 2019
  4. ^ What Is In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF)? | Planned Parenthood Plannedparenthood.org, 16 July 2019
  5. ^ Is IUI more successful than IVF? Nationalwomenshealth.adhb.govt.nz, 16 July 2019
  6. ^ How Much Does IVF Really Cost? | Verywell Family Verywellfamily.com, 16 July 2019
  7. ^ IUI Treatment: Procedure, Costs, Success Rates | Verywell Family Verywellfamily.com, 16 July 2019
  8. ^ Is IUI a Successful Fertility Treatment? | Verywell Family Verywellfamily.com, 16 July 2019
  9. ^ When should I Try IUI First? | Todays Parent Todaysparent.com, 16 July 2019
  10. ^ What Medical Conditions Can IVF Help Treat? | Essential Parent Nhs.uk, 16 July 2019
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Jayashekhar Aron

Feb. 22, 2019, 10:12 a.m. 4.5


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