IUI vs IVF: The Procedures, Success Rates and Duration

IUI is indicated in disorders like anovulation, PCOS and mild endometriosis in the presence of patent tubes, whereas IVF is advised in case of damage, blockage or infection of the tubes, pelvic adhesions, severe endometriosis, male factor infertility, in case of advanced maternal age and low AMH  to name a few. Read our complete guide on the difference between IUI and IVF.

Fertility specialists run some tests to advise on which option is best for you.

  • HSG ( Hysterosalpingography) is a test done on an OPD basis.
  • Sonosalpingography is another test done under ultrasound guidance.
  • A more definitive/confirmatory test is the chromopertubation test done by Laparoscopy. However, it is a minimally invasive test that requires hospitalization and general anesthesia.

Table Of Content
What is an IUI Procedure and how is it performed?
Who is IUI more suitable for?
What is IVF?
When does your doctor recommend IVF?
Difference between IVF and IUI
IUI vs IVF: FAQs

What is an IUI Procedure and how is it performed?

During an IUI procedure, a doctor will insert a special catheter through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. The fine catheter will contain semen samples that have been washed and purified in advance. The doctor will then release or inject the sperm into your uterus. This procedure is done using aseptic precautions.
This procedure usually takes very less time and can be performed on an outpatient basis in an office setting or hospital.

Difference between stimulated IUI and unstimulated IUI

In a stimulated cycle of IUI, the woman receives hormonal injections or tablets in order to stimulate the growth of follicles that contain the eggs, whereas in an unstimulated cycle of IUI, egg development occurs in the course of a natural cycle.

Who is IUI more suitable for and when is it considered the first line of treatment?

Your doctor may recommend you go through the IUI procedure in any of these cases.

  • Couples who have difficulty having intercourse.
  • Couples where the male partner has ejaculatory dysfunction
  • If the male partner cannot be present  on the fertile days (the semen sample can be frozen and used)
  • When donor sperm is required.
  • Women with unexplained infertility
  • Women with mild endometriosis and patent tubes.
  • Women having cervical factors that prevent natural penetration of the sperm (hostile cervical mucus /cervical stenosis /cervical scarring)
  • Women having ovulation issues
  • Women with a reduced number of eggs.
  • Allergy to the proteins in the semen. During the sperm preparation process, the proteins causing allergy are removed

What is IVF?

IVF ( In Vitro Fertilization) is an assisted reproductive technique. In this, the sperm fertilises the egg outside the body in the lab. ICSI ( Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection ) is the advanced version of IVF. Here a single sperm is injected into the egg.

For IVF, the woman receives hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs. The growth of the follicles is monitored by regular ultrasound scans. Once the follicle has reached adequate size and maturity, the woman receives the trigger injection for the final maturation of the eggs and to time the ovulation. 34 to 36 hours later oocyte retrieval is performed under general anesthesia and the woman rests under observation for a few hours after that. On the day of the egg retrieval, the male partner is required to give a semen sample for fertilization of the eggs. The embryos are then kept under culture conditions and their growth is monitored. The embryos may be transferred in the same fresh cycle or in a frozen-thaw cycle.

PGT is Preimplantation  Genetic Testing of embryos where the embryos are genetically tested to ensure that only normal embryos are transferred.

When does your doctor recommend IVF?

Your fertility doctor will suggest you go through IVF in any of these cases.

  • In women with Tubal block or pelvic adhesions.
  • Couples with long-standing infertility
  • For couples in whom the male partner has decreased count and motility and the sperm have abnormal morphology.
  • For couples who have had 3 or more failed IUI cycles.

Difference between IVF and IUI

Here are the points of difference in both cases.

  • The difference between IVF and IUI success rate: IVF usually carries a better success rate than IUI. IUI has about a 5 to 25 % success rate whereas IVF can have more results of 40%.
  • Duration of the treatment period? The cycle lasts about the same of approximately 15 days in both forms of treatment. The time period can vary if any pretreatment is required.
  • Risks: IVF has very minimal risks. These are rare and can result from anesthesia complications, bleeding and injury to organs like the intestines and the urinary bladder. Both IUI and IVF have the risk of failure and risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.
  • Any other factors: The number of hormonal injections required in IVF exceeds those used in IUI.

IUI vs IVF: FAQs

What is the Chance of OHSS with IUI and IVF?

There is a less than 2% chance of hyperstimulation in women undergoing IVF or IUI. The chances are less in IUI as the dosage of injections is much less as compared to IVF. The incidence of Ovarian Hyperstimulation increases in women with polycystic ovaries. Using an agonist as the ovulation trigger for maturing the eggs in cases of IVF eliminates the risk of OHSS. However, in such a situation fresh embryo transfer is not recommended.

What are the Chances of multiple pregnancies with IUI vs IVF?

The chances of multiple pregnancies with IUI vs IVF is less than 8% to 10%.

Should you do IUI or IVF?

It is not an either this or that case. The decision is taken by the treating doctor who will consider all the factors and decide.

How many IUI cycles should I do before I move to IVF?

As we have already explained, every situation is different. Your fertility specialist will recommend the treatment. But we have seen that on average it takes 3 cycles.

What are the benefits of IVF and IUI?

Both procedures improve the TTP (time to pregnancy) if chosen judiciously.

What are IUI vs IVF success rates?

Normally, IVF has a higher success rate compared to IUI. Where IVF has positive results of more than 40%; IUI only gives an indication of 5 to 25% of healthy pregnancies.

Read more: What is an AMH level?

Read more: Do’s and Don’ts after your Embryo Transfer