Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) can both help to improve fertility and increase a couple’s chance of getting pregnant. They can both be effective methods and both have a relatively long history of use, but there are some differences between the two that are worth noting.

To learn more about IUI vs IVF, keep reading.

What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

IUI is considered to be less invasive than IVF and it is also less complicated, which means it’s often a cheaper and more accessible procedure for couples trying to get pregnant. The goal of IUI is to place the sperm into the uterus in order to give it a head-start, but the sperm will need to fertilize the egg on its own and there is no guarantee that this will happen.

IUI is usually the method of choice for women who can’t have sex because of a disability, as well as women who are in a same-sex relationship. In such cases there may be no issues with fertility and the treatment has a good chance of working.

What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

During IVF, the female’s egg is removed and then fertilized with sperm. This process takes place in a laboratory, with the fertilized egg, known as the “embryo”, being returned to the womb where it can grow.

This process can be carried out using the couple’s egg and sperm, if viable, or using egg and/or sperm from donors. There are several stages involved with IVF though and it’s not quite as straightforward as fertilizing an extracted egg.

For one thing, the woman’s menstrual cycle needs to be suppressed, and ovaries are stimulated so that they will produce more eggs. A careful monitoring is then required to ensure that everything goes as it should and that any problems are discovered early.

The patient usually finds out within a couple weeks if the procedure has been successful or not. They can take a normal pregnancy test to do this just two weeks later, and that should tell them what they want to hear. If the procedure is a failure, it can be repeated, and often is.

In fact, the highest rate of success for an IVF procedure (with “success” being defined as the woman giving birth to a live child) is less than a third, and that applies to women under the age of 35. For women above the age of 40 the success rate drops to less than 10% and continues to fall quite abruptly from there, with the success rate as low as 2% for women in their mid-forties.

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