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IUI vs. IVF: Which Is Right for You?

By HCRM on September 15, 2015


Graphic illustration of a sperm and an egg.  Thousands of patients use assisted reproductive technology (ART) services to improve their chances for conception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports: “approximately 1.5 percent of all infants born in the United States are conceived using ART.” If you and your partner have been struggling to conceive, these fertility treatments may be able to help you achieve your family goals. IUI (intrauterine insemination) and IVF (in vitro fertilization) are two of the most popular ART procedures. When considering IUI vs. IVF, you’ll need to consider your particular needs, preferences, and budget. At the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, our team of experienced fertility doctors can guide you through the ART process and help you choose the treatment that will suit your needs. In the following blog post, we review the basics of IUI vs. IVF at our Omaha fertility practice.

What Is IUI?

To perform IUI, our doctors will collect a sperm sample from the male patient and process it so that it becomes more concentrated. After carefully monitoring the female patient’s menstrual cycle, we will then insert the “washed” sperm directly into her uterus during ovulation. This increases the chances that the sperm will fertilize the egg in the fallopian tubes and implant in the uterus, leading to pregnancy.

What is IVF?

IVF is a more complicated, sophisticated process than IUI. This treatment involves the following steps:

  • Prescribing special hormonal medications to stimulate increased egg development.
  • Removing the eggs from the follicle using a precise, thin needle and an ultrasound probe.
  • Monitoring egg development in our laboratory to determine when they are ready for fertilization.
  • Placing processed sperm into the same space as the extracted eggs.
  • Watching the development of the fertilized eggs and choosing one to three of the healthiest (we may also perform preimplantation genetic diagnosis at this time).  
  • Transferring these fertilized eggs directly into the uterus, where they will implant.

Candidacy

Many patients with fertility issues are eligible for both IUI and IVF. In general, IUI is a simpler procedure that serves as an effective treatment for a more limited range of conditions. Our doctors often recommend IUI for:

  • Women who suffer from ovulation disorders (as an alternative to or in conjunction with fertility medications)
  • Women with cervical abnormalities, such as scarring from prior procedures.
  • Couples who have opted to use donor or frozen sperm to become pregnant.
  • Men with reproductive issues relating to ejaculation.
  • Men with most types of male factor infertility, including low motility (speed and movement), irregular morphology (shape), or low sperm volume.

IVF can address all of these concerns and more. We often suggest this more complex treatment for:

  • Patients with all of the above fertility issues, as well as fallopian tube blockages, pelvic inflammatory disease, hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), prior vasectomies, genetic disorders, and more.
  • Couples who haven’t been able to conceive with IUI.
  • Patients who choose to use donor or frozen eggs.
  • Women over the age of 35, who typically want to pursue more aggressive treatment given that time is a key consideration.

Our doctors will help you determine if you are more eligible for IUI or IVF at your initial consultation. 

Benefits

IUI and IVF both offer distinctive advantages. IUI is typically less expensive than IVF, requires many fewer appointments, and can provide outstanding outcomes for couples struggling with certain types of infertility. IVF is a more advanced treatment option that offers higher success rates for patients who are willing to invest more time, money, and energy into resolving complex or pressing fertility issues. Our doctors will help you determine which treatment is more appropriate for you at your initial consultation, taking into account your medical needs, budgetary constraints, and personal wishes.

We Can Help You Decide

If you’re deciding between IUI and IVF, we can educate you about both treatments and help you make an informed selection. Contact the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine today to find out more about our services or schedule a consultation with one of our excellent fertility doctors.

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Each and every staff member at Heartland Center is tremendous. Dr. Maclin is a woman of grace, and a terrific medical doctor. She is a world-class surgeon, and we are so grateful to know her.

Lene - IVF Patient

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Omaha, NE 68138

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