IUI vs. IVF: Comparing the Process, Cost, Benefits, and Risks

By Abeera Maham
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published October 30, 2021.

IUI vs. IVF: Comparing the Process, Cost, Benefits, and Risks main image

IUI is a low-tech, uncomplicated process that is often less expensive than other reproductive treatments. It boosts your chances of getting pregnant, but because everyone's body is different, IUI isn't guaranteed to work.

If we look at IUI vs. IVF for PCOS, IVF has got a better success rate, but it also has a harsher risk list.

Let's look at how it is done and what the differences are between IUI and IVF.

How Do Doctors Perform IUI Treatment?

IUI helps sperm reach closer to your egg by injecting sperm cells directly into your uterus around the time you're ovulating. This reduces the amount of time, and the distance sperm must travel, increasing the chances of fertilization.

The process goes as follows:

  1. You may be required to take ovulation-stimulating fertility medications before the insemination operation.
  2. Your partner or a donor goes through a "sperm washing" procedure to extract a concentrated amount of healthy sperm from the semen.
  3. The sperm is then injected into your uterus by the gynecologist.

If sperm fertilizes your egg and the fertilized egg implants in the lining of your uterus, you will become pregnant.

The Different Types of IUI Treatments:

  • Intracervical Insemination: This is where they place the sperm in the cervix
  • Intrauterine Insemination: The sperm gets placed within the uterus
  • Intrauterine Tuboperitoneal Insemination: A technique that uses 10ml of prepared sperm as opposed to 4ml of sperm
  • Intra-tubal Insemination: This form of insemination allows the sperm to be placed directly into the fallopian tube

How Do Doctors Perform IVF Treatment

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a term that refers to the process of fertilizing eggs in a laboratory and is a well-known sort of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF combines medications and surgical treatments to help the sperm fertilize an egg and the fertilized egg implant in the uterus.

The process goes as follows:

  • You will be required to take medication that causes many of your eggs to mature and become fertile.
  • Next, your eggs will be removed.
  • A single donated sperm will then be injected into the center of each ova via a micropipette. This process aids the sperm in fertilizing the eggs.
  • After fertilization has taken place, the doctor then plants the eggs into your uterus, and if successful, one or more will result in pregnancy.

The Different Types of IVF Treatments

  • IVF + Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): This frozen embryo gets thawed before being transferred back into the uterus.
  • IVF + Elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET): A single embryo gets chosen from a selection to be placed within a woman's uterus.
  • IVF + Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm gets injected into the cytoplasm of an egg, allowing it to be fertilized before placing it in the woman's uterus.
  • IVF + Egg Donor: An egg donation gets used when a woman's eggs either aren't suitable or cannot produce her own.
  • IVF + Donor Sperm: If the partner's sperm is infertile then a donor's sperm can be used instead.
  • Natural IVF: This process closely monitors the woman's cycle and waits for ovulation rather than using medication to stimulate the follicles.
  • Mini IVF (minimal stimulation): Mini IVF is a more gentle form of stimulation that uses less medication.

IVF is a lengthy process with several steps that take several months to finish. It can work on the first try in some cases, but many people require more than one round of IVF to become pregnant. It will almost certainly enhance your chances of getting pregnant if you're suffering fertility issues, but there's no guarantee - everyone's body is different, and IVF won't work for everyone.

Comparing the Benefits of IUI vs. IVF

The Benefits of IUI

  • It's a lot less invasive.
  • When compared to IVF and ICSI process, it is less expensive.
  • There is less stress on the body.
  • Improves sperm quality. Prostaglandins, pathogenic agents, antigenic proteins, non-motile spermatozoa, immature germ cells, and other contaminants are removed during the washing process, resulting in high-quality sperm.
  • The procedure will only take 15 to 20 minutes, and you will be instructed to wait in the recovery room for 20 minutes before leaving.
  • No anesthetic is required for this surgery. It doesn't hurt.

The Benefits of IVF

  • IVF is effective when other infertility therapies have failed.
  • Anyone can make use of it.
  • Donated eggs and/or sperm can be used.
  • You have complete control over the timing.
  • Boost your chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
  • Reduce your risks of having a miscarriage.

Comparing the Risks of IUI vs. IVF

When we look at IUI vs. IVF, both fertility treatments have their fair share of side effects, and the one you pick is a personal choice.

The Risks of IUI

If the following requirements are not met, such as clear and intact fallopian tubes, problems may arise.

  • The pregnant partner must be ovulating, and the sperm must have a particular level of motility.
  • When compared to alternative therapies like IVF, IUI has a success rate of roughly 20%.
  • Due to the use of fertility medicines, the possibility of conceiving multiples increases. As a result, internal ultrasonography is strongly advised.
  • Certain people may encounter some negative effects due to the fertility medicines used during the IUI technique rather than the operation itself.

The Risk of IVF

IVF has certain drawbacks, such as the possibility of side effects from reproductive medicines, the intrusive procedures performed, and the high expenses.

Following are the risks of an IVF treatment:

  • Symptoms that occur after an embryo transfer: You may pass a tiny amount of clear or red fluid. Breast soreness, constipation, and stomach cramping or bloating are all possible side effects.
  • Experience ovulation hyperstimulation syndrome.
  • Complications in egg retrieval.
  • Have an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Risk miscarriage.
  • Low birth weight and premature birth.
  • Multiple births.
  • Defects in the womb.
  • Emotional tension.

IUI vs. IVF Success Rates:

IVF Success Rate

Because of the increased success rate per cycle, IVF has a substantially shorter time to pregnancy. The success rate for persons under the age of 35 is usually about 50% per treatment.

IUI Success Rate

The success rate of IUIs is usually about 5-20% per cycle. It is most common for an IUI to be successful in the first three or four treatment cycles.

Comparing the Cost of IUI vs. IVF

IUI Costs

Going through an IUI cycle, costs around $1,000, including the monitoring and the insemination technique, but not the medication.

IVF Costs

An IVF cycle costs between $12,000 and $20,000, depending on where it's done, and includes all monitoring, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer but not medication.

Is IUI or IVF a Better Fertility Treatment Option?

IUI vs. IVF: Which is More Painful?

While you may only experience slight discomfort with IUI, IFV, on the other hand, is said to be more painful, thanks to cramps and the side effects of fertility medications.

If you're wondering when to use IUI vs. IVF to beat infertility:

IVF has a better rate of success than IUI. Artificial insemination is both less expensive and less invasive than IVF. Before moving on to IVF, it is generally suggested that couples go through fertility diagnostic testing and then try the three cycles of IUI.