How Is IUI Different From IVF?

How Is IUI Different From IVF?

Taking a step into parenthood isn’t always easy; some people need extra support from fertility treatments. There are so many fertility treatments that it can become overwhelming when trying to figure out what’s best for you. 

However, with the help of fertility experts like IVF Matters, you’ll be able to discover what treatments can help you conceive. 

Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are two common types of fertility treatment — but how is IUI different from IVF? 

Discover which fertility treatment could suit you and more with IVF Matters. 

What is IUI?

IUI is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chances of fertilisation. Doctors often use this procedure when people have difficulty getting pregnant due to low sperm count, ovulation problems or cervical issues.

During an IUI treatment, fertility experts closely monitor the menstrual cycle to determine the best time for insemination. A sperm sample is provided (by the male partner or a donor), ‘washed’ and separated from the seminal fluid to create a concentrated sample. The sperm is then inserted through the vagina and into the uterus using a thin, flexible catheter.

The IUI process is relatively simple and painless and usually takes only a few minutes to complete. It can be performed in a doctor’s office or fertility clinic and does not require anaesthetic. Some women may experience mild cramping or discomfort during or after the procedure, but this usually disappears quickly.

What is IVF?

IVF is a fertility treatment that involves fertilising an egg with sperm outside the body in a laboratory and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) back into the uterus.

During IVF treatment, fertility medications are taken to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. These eggs are retrieved from the ovaries using an ultrasound-guided needle, combined with sperm in a laboratory dish and monitored by an Embryologist to see if fertilisation occurs.

If fertilisation occurs and an embryo develops, it can be transferred back into the uterus using a catheter. Your fertility expert may give you additional medication to help support the implantation process. 

A pregnancy test is performed about two weeks after the embryo transfer to see if the treatment was successful.

The IVF process can be physically and emotionally demanding and take several weeks to complete. Fertility experts often use it when other fertility treatments have been unsuccessful or when there are more complex fertility issues, such as blocked fallopian tubes or severe male infertility.

What are the main differences between IUI and IVF?

There are several differences between IUI and IVF, and they can be one of the deciding factors as to which one you decide to have done. 

The process 

The main difference between IVF and IUI is that IVF involves fertilising an egg outside the body in a laboratory — which involves extracting the eggs in the first place. As such, IVF is more invasive than IUI.

In contrast, IUI involves placing prepared sperm directly into the uterus through a thin catheter during ovulation. IUI is generally less painful and has a shorter recovery time than IVF.

IVF vs IUI: costs

IVF is typically a more expensive procedure than IUI because its longer process involves a number of steps. 

You may be able to access IVF treatment on the NHS if you meet certain criteria. If you're not eligible for NHS-funded treatment, or you decide to pay for IVF with a private clinic, the cost of IVF can vary depending on the clinic.  

At IVF Matters, we believe that fertility treatments should be accessible and affordable for anyone who wants it. Our IVF costs £3,899 and includes the below: 

  • HFEA Fee
  • Nurse consultation
  • Cycle management
  • Ultrasound monitoring
  • Egg collection under sedation 
  • Sperm preparation
  • Embryo transfer on day 3 
  • Consultation with a nutritionist or counsellor

However, this is only for the first round of IVF, and you may need more than one before falling pregnant. There are also additional charges that may be necessary when going through IVF: 

  • ICSI £1,299
  • IMSI £699
  • PICSI £149
  • Blastocyst transfer £749
  • Embryoscope £649
  • Assisted hatching £699
  • Embryo glue £349
  • Embryo freezing and storage for 1 year £1,299
  • Blood tests £349

IUI is less expensive than IVF. As with IVF treatment, you may be offered IUI on the NHS if you meet specific criteria. If you aren’t eligible or choose to have IUI through a private fertility clinic, the cost can range from around £700 to £1,600 for each cycle of treatment.

At IVF Matters, the cost of IUI is £1,449. For your first cycle of treatment, this cost includes: 

  • HFEA Fee
  • Nurse consultation
  • Cycle management 
  • Ultrasound monitoring
  • Sperm preparation 
  • IUI procedure
  • Consultation with a nutritionist or counsellor

Treatment duration

The duration of IVF is typically longer than IUI, so some people prefer to attempt IUI first as it can be a faster option. IVF takes slightly longer because you need to have the egg removed, fertilised in a laboratory and then placed back inside your womb. 

However, with IUI, all that is involved is placing the sperm into the womb — making it a much shorter process. IVF typically takes between three weeks, whereas IUI takes around two weeks only. 

Success rates: Is IUI or IVF more successful?

The success rates of both fertility treatments differ. IVF typically has higher success rates, especially for people with more complex fertility issues. 

Meanwhile, the success rates of IUI are lower and depend on various factors such as what has caused the infertility problem  and the quality of the sperm.

IVF vs IUI: key takeaways

IUI is less invasive, less expensive and has a shorter recovery time than IVF. However, its success rates are generally lower than IVF. 

As IVF can be more expensive, invasive and time-consuming, some people prefer to try IUI first.

IVF and IUI are both fertility treatments that can help people conceive and you should choose a treatment after discussing your fertility problems with an expert consultant.

Check out our success stories at IVF Matters.

When is IUI recommended?

Fertility specialists often recommend IUI for people who have been trying to conceive for at least a year without success and have not been diagnosed with any significant fertility issues. They may also recommend IUI for people with specific fertility issues, such as unexplained infertility, cervical mucus problems, or mild male factor subfertility.

Women with ovulation disorders or irregular menstrual cycles may also be good candidates for IUI. IUI is often used with fertility drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs, increasing the chances of successful conception.

Doctors may recommend IUI if you have a low sperm count or poor motility, as the sperm can be specially prepared and concentrated before being placed directly into the uterus.

When to start IVF

IVF is recommended for people who have been trying to conceive for a significant time without success or have been diagnosed with certain fertility issues that other means cannot address.

People who have tried other fertility treatments without success, including several rounds of IUI, may be candidates for IVF treatment. Generally, IVF treatment can be considered the next step after three or four unsuccessful rounds of IUI. 

However, this may vary depending on individual circumstances. A fertility specialist will consider factors such as the woman’s age and overall health, as well as the cause of the fertility issue.

Fertility experts can recommend IVF treatment for people with more complex fertility issues including:

Additionally, specialists can recommend IVF for people who have undergone genetic testing and are at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to their offspring.

What if IUI and IVF don’t work?

Perhaps you’ve had IUI or IVF treatment before and it hasn’t resulted in a successful pregnancy. 

In that case, your next option is to book a fertility consultation to discuss other options. 

Other treatment paths are available, such as IVF using a donor egg. While these may not have been your first option, they could help you to conceive and start the family that you’ve always wanted. 

IUI and IVF are reasonable first steps into the world of fertility treatments, as they both have high success rates – but they aren’t the only possible treatments for you.

If you want to start your fertility journey with IUI or IVF, book a consultation with our expert fertility consultants at IVF Matters. 

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