IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) vs. IUI (Intrauterine Insemination): What Are the Differences?

MD Murat Balanli
29 June 2024

IVF (In Vitro Fertilization):
IVF begins with ovarian stimulation, where the woman receives hormonal treatments to produce multiple eggs.  When the eggs reach maturity, a small surgical incision is used to remove them from the ovaries. After that, sperm are added to these eggs in a lab setting.

The more involved process of IVF involves multiple phases, such as the harvesting of eggs and the transfer of embryos. It is used to treat a variety of infertility conditions, including endometriosis, severe male factor infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, infertility that is unexplained, and situations in which other treatments have failed.

IVF often has greater success rates than IUI, particularly for women under 35 and in cases where there are no serious underlying medical conditions. However, because IVF requires numerous steps and complex equipment, it is more expensive.

For more information please check our overview of IVF.

IUI (Intrauterine Insemination):
IUI is a less complicated process. The first step is keeping an eye on the woman's ovulation cycle, which may involve taking medicine to increase the production of eggs. A concentrated sample of sperm is directly injected to the woman's uterus during the ovulation period. The process increases the likelihood of fertilization by bringing the sperm and egg closer together.

IUI has lower success rates than IVF, but IUI is more affordable than IVF, which makes it a more viable choice for a lot of couples.


Here are the key differences between IVF and IUI

Procedure Complexity
More complex, involving ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization in a lab, and embryo transfer.
IUI: Simpler, involving monitoring ovulation and directly inserting sperm into the uterus.

Steps Involved
Multiple steps including hormonal treatment, egg retrieval, lab fertilization, and embryo culture.
IUI: Fewer steps, mainly timing ovulation and inseminating sperm.

Used for blocked fallopian tubes, severe male factor infertility, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, and when other treatments have failed.
IUI: Used for mild male factor infertility, unexplained infertility, and cervical mucus problems.

Success Rates
Generally higher success rates, especially in younger women and less severe infertility issues.
IUI: Lower success rates compared to IVF, particularly for older women or more severe infertility issues.

More expensive due to advanced technology and multiple procedural steps.
IUI: Less costly, making it more accessible for many couples.

: More invasive due to the egg retrieval procedure.
IUI: Less invasive, as it only involves inserting sperm with a catheter.

Page content is for informational purposes only. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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