Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are two most commonly used fertility treatments. These two techniques have been in practice for decades now. Even then, people often get confused and fail to differentiate between the two medical terminologies. 


Both IVF and IUI are used to help couples who face trouble conceiving naturally.


– In IUI, the sperm is placed directly into the uterus using a speculum.


– In IVF, the eggs are surgically removed and are fertilized with the sperm on a dish, in a lab-assisted environment. The fertilized egg is then transferred into the uterus.


Let’s understand both the techniques in detail.

What is IUI?


IUI or intrauterine insemination is a fertility treatment where the sperm is directly placed in the uterus. The chances of conception in IUI fertility treatment are more since the process allows a higher concentration of healthy sperm to come closer to the egg. 


At the beginning of IUI treatment, the woman is given injections and medication to stimulate the body to produce more eggs than in any normal condition. Once the course of medication  begins, the fertility specialist will keep a close check on the production of eggs and regularly monitor your health through ultrasounds and blood tests. The specialist will schedule your insemination treatment to coincide with your ovulation.


Meanwhile, the specialist will get the sperm ready for the treatment. During the process, one can either use fresh sperm from the partner or donor sperm. The sperm is washed and prepared before implanting in the uterus. To separate the sperm from the semen and then clean it, chemicals are used which can enhance fertility. 


After separating and cleaning, the specialist places the sperm in a thin catheter to insert it inside the vagina. The woman is asked to lie down on her back with the legs wide open. Using a speculum, the doctor will open the cervix and using the soft, flexible catheter, gently implants the sperm in the uterus. 


What are the different forms of IUI?


Based on medications used, there are four different types of IUI cycles. Depending upon your choice, medical history, fertility testing, the IUI specialist decides which treatment is best for you. The types of IUI are:


– Natural cycle – In a natural IUI cycle, no medication is used to produce eggs.

– Trigger cycle – The trigger cycle allows medications to trigger successful ovulation for a certain period of time increasing the chances of pregnancy. The IUI process begins after 12-36 hours of the trigger cycle.

– Oral medication cycle – In this cycle, oral medicines are given to boost the development of eggs and ovulation. 

.- Injectable medication cycle – Gonadotropin medications are injected into the ovaries along with any oral medicines.

What is IVF?


IVF is yet another common fertility treatment. Similar to IUI, IVF treatment also begins with medications and injections which are given to stimulate the ovaries to increase the number of eggs. The development is monitored through blood tests and ultrasounds. 


Once the eggs mature, the fertility specialist will retrieve the eggs. In the ‘egg retrieval’ process, the specialist inserts a fine needle in the vagina and removes the eggs. During the process, the patient is sedated with general anesthesia. There might be some prickly feelings about no major complications or discomforts as such.


The egg is removed and kept on a dish. On the other side, the specialist will prepare the sperm, which can either be from the partner or from a donor. The used sperm can either be fresh sperm or frozen. The sperm is washed, cleaned from all dirt and debris and allowed to fertilize the egg on the dish.


If the cause of infertility is due to some serious problem in the male partner, the healthy sperm is injected into the egg with the help of a needle. This process is known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI. This is an advanced form of IVF treatment.


Once the egg is fertilized, the embryo is closely monitored for the next 5 to 6 days. The embryo is then transferred into the uterus. Similar to IUI, the woman is allowed to lie down on her back with her legs wide open. Using a very soft and flexible catheter, the specialist implants the embryo in the uterus. The woman is asked to stay in that position for the next couple of minutes so the embryo is successfully planted.


Types of IVF:


The types of IVF are based on the usage of medications, fertilization, and processing of the embryo. Different types of IVF are:


– Traditional IVF – This is the normal IVF process where the egg and the sperm is fertilized on a petri dish.

– ICSI – An advanced form of IVF, in which the sperm is injected into the egg with a microneedle.

– Mini IVF – A process to produce lesser but quality eggs using minimal medications.

– Natural IVF – No medications are used to stimulate the ovaries. Only one egg is retrieved in the process, and on rare occasions, two eggs.

FET IVF – Not fresh but frozen and thawed embryo is transferred into the uterus.


IUI & IVF – A Quick Comparison


MonitoringRequires monitoring only in case of strong medicationsAlways requires monitoring
SurgeryNo surgerySurgery is required during egg retrieval
Where is the fertilization done?Directly in the woman’s bodyFertility laboratory
Chances of multiple pregnanciesNOIf multiple embryos develop, they can be frozen and implanted for multiple pregnancies
Option for donor eggsNoYes
Option for donor spermYesYes
Gender selectionNo No


Which fertility treatment is right – IUI or IVF?


There is no rule that says one of the two treatments is better than the other. IUI might work for some women, while for others, IVF could be more effective. 


IUI is less expensive and less invasive than IVF. IUI is often recommended for couples who have mild fertility disorders, unexplained infertility. It is recommended for women above 40 years of age. IVF is recommended to couples who have serious fertility disorders, women who have faced multiple miscarriages, or women with blocked fallopian tubes. Either way, IUI and IVF have proved to be a boon for millions of couples and achieve a successful pregnancy.


Important facts about IUI and IVF:


– In IUI treatment, a woman develops only 1 or 2 eggs.

– Although sperm is directly deposited in the uterus, there is no guarantee that fertilization would be successful.

– The medications given in IVF is usually much stronger than those in IUI. 

– With the help of medications, a woman can produce 15-18 mature eggs. 


How safe is IUI and IVF?


– IUI and IVF are both safe pregnancy treatments. The chances of any major complications are rare in both the process.

– If the dosage of medications and development is closely monitored, the chances of any complications can be reduced in both IUI and IVF.

– IUI does not require any form of surgery. IVF requires a surgery during ‘egg retrieval’ under the influence of anesthesia.


Every patient and every pregnancy is different. So, evaluate your health conditions and find out which process will suit you best, you need to consult with an experienced fertility specialist and discuss the recommended course of action. 


Couples dealing with infertility issues can now consult with experienced and reliable fertility specialist at Pristyn Care.