Two of the most commonly used fertility treatments methods are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Even though these procedures have been used successfully for many decades, people often confuse the two and are unaware of the differences between them. While both fertility treatments are used to achieve the same goal (a healthy baby), the processes are quite different.
WHAT IS IUI?
IUI, also known as “artificial insemination,” is a procedure that involves placing sperm directly into the uterus. The process helps a higher concentration of healthy sperm get closer to the egg increasing the chance of conception.
The IUI process is often done in conjunction with taking fertility medications, such as Clomid, to stimulate the body to grow multiple eggs. After taking the medications, your fertility doctor will monitor you closely with blood tests and ultrasounds and will schedule the insemination to coincide with ovulation.
Your partner will provide a sperm sample (or donor sperm can be used), which is specially washed and prepared. During this process, the sperm is separated from the semen, and chemicals are removed which could impair fertility. The sperm is placed into a thin catheter, which is then inserted into the vagina and injected into the uterus. It is a quick and relatively painless procedure.
WHAT IS IVF?
Similar to IUI, the IVF process starts off with taking fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce an increased number of eggs and careful monitoring by your doctor through blood test and ultrasounds.
When your eggs are mature, your fertility doctor will “retrieve” them by inserting a very fine needle through the vagina into the ovary to remove the eggs. The entire process is performed under general anesthesia, so there is only minor discomfort, if any.
The fluid is then examined by embryologists to isolate the eggs, and then the eggs are fertilized with the washed and prepared sperm. In instances of severe male factor infertility, a single sperm is injected into each egg through a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
The embryos are then grown to the blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6). At this point, the embryos are examined and this is when preimplantation genetic testing of embryos can be performed. The healthy embryo(s) can either be transferred into the uterus or frozen, or cryopreserved, until you are ready.
WHICH FERTILITY TREATMENT IS RIGHT FOR ME?
IUI is a less expensive, less invasive procedure and is often the first course of treatment for couples with mild male factor infertility, unexplained infertility, and for women under the age of 40. Women who have failed IUI cycles, advanced endometriosis or blocked fallopian tubes, IVF is typically the best treatment option with the highest chance of success. Both IUI and IVF have helped millions of families across the globe to achieve a successful pregnancy.
Your course of treatment at CCRM is highly individualized based on your specific needs. If you’d like to meet with a fertility specialist to discuss your fertility treatment options, please contact us today.