IUI vs IVF: What's the Difference?

In addition to different procedures and processes, the success rate for IUI vs IVF differ greatly, as does the cost.

Written by:
Nikolaos Georgantas
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When a couple is facing infertility, the decision on how to move forward can be difficult and overwhelming.

In this guide we will talk about:

  • Differences between IUI & IVF
  • IUI vs IVF Success Rate
  • IUI vs IVF Cost
  • Pros and Cons of IUI
  • Pros and Cons of IVF
  • How to Decide Between IUI & IVF?

There is a lot of information available on intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

How do you know which fertility treatment is right for you?

Differences between IUI & IVF

The biggest difference between IUI and IVF is the process of insemination.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Process

IUI is a relatively simple procedure that happens internally, placing sperm directly inside your uterus and closer to your egg.

  1. Ahead of the procedure, the sperm sample is prepared in a lab to remove seminal fluid so that the sample is concentrated sperm.
  2. During the procedure, the sperm is inserted high up in the uterus so it bypasses the cervix and has a shorter trip through the fallopian tubes.

In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) Process

IVF happens outside of the body.

  1. Before the retrieval procedure, the woman takes fertility medication to stimulate the ovaries.
  2. Once the eggs are retrieved, they are combined with sperm in a lab, then transferred into the uterus once the embryo is viable.

Aside from the different fertilization processes, there are a few differences between IUI and IVF, including success rates and costs.

IUI vs IVF Success Rate

IUI success rates for ideal candidates is 10-15% per cycle, whereas IVF has a success rate of 50-60%.

IUI VS IVF Success Rate Per Cycle Graph

Despite the difference in success rates, many patients choose to try IUI before IVF for many reasons. Here is why:

  • There are fewer side effects from IUI because fertility medication is rarely used.
  • The medication used in IVF can cause a wide range of side effects including hot flashes, bloating, mood swings, depression and anxiety, and breast tenderness.
  • One cycle of IUI takes less time than a single cycle of IVF and is much less invasive.

IUI vs IVF Cost

The cost for both IUI and IVF vary depending on a number of factors.

IUI VS IVF Average Cost Per Cycle Graph

A typical IUI cycle can cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $4,000 if the patient is prescribed medications as part of the IUI process. Gonadotropin injections are sometimes recommended for IUI patients who need a stronger ovulation response and each injection can cost up to $2,000.

IVF is much more expensive than IUI, with an average of around $20,000 per cycle. Again, the cost can vary depending on many factors, including location, medications, and pre-existing medical conditions.

Pros & Cons of IUI

Pros and Cons of IUI chart

Pros to choosing IUI:

  • Less invasive than IVF and the procedure is only a few minutes long with very little discomfort.
  • Relatively inexpensive and some insurance plans cover the cost.

To find out if IUI is covered by your insurance, you should contact your insurance carrier directly.

Cons to IUI:

  • Success rates can be as low as 10% and chances of pregnancy typically stops increasing after two cycles.
  • The risk of conceiving multiples is much higher, since there is little control over fertilization. Multiple pregnancies have a higher rate of miscarriage.

Pros & Cons of IVF

Pros and Cons of IVF Chart

Pros of IVF:

  • The biggest pro of IVF is the higher success rate. In an ideal patient, the success rate can be as high as 60%.
  • Most insurance plans cover some of the high cost of IVF
  • Embryos can be genetically tested before transfer to better ensure a healthy baby.

The downsides to IVF:

  • High cost and limited insurance coverage depending on your location and insurance plan.
  • Side effects of the required medication. Many IVF patients report headaches, bloating, mood swings, and even painful rashes.

How to Decide Between IUI & IVF?

The decision to seek fertility treatments can be complication and emotional, but you don’t have to feel alone.

There are excellent fertility specialists across the country who can help you decide the best course of action for you.

Your doctor will go over your medical history and answer any questions you have before helping you decide the best next steps.

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About the author
Nikolaos Georgantas

Nikolaos Georgantas is the Marketing Director of ConsiderIVF a NY based fertility data and insights company to maximize your chances for IVF success.

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