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What is the difference between IUI and IVF?

A common question patients ask is, “what is the difference between IUI and IVF?” To some that may come as a relatively easy question to answer, but without the background knowledge of either term one may not understand.

The abbreviation IUI refers to intrauterine insemination. This is a procedure in which processed (washed) sperm cells are directly placed (inseminated) into a women’s uterus around the time of ovulation. We thus bypass the vagina (which is acidic and where most sperm get destroyed) and the cervix (where the mucus can be hostile to sperm). With IUI we thus increase the chances of egg and sperm finding each other (fertilization) and thus increase the chance of pregnancy. IUI can be done in a natural cycle or with fertility medications (clomiphene citrate, letrazole, follicle stimulating hormone etc.). This procedure is a common practice at our office. Cycle monitoring is done with ovulation predictor kits or with blood tests and ultrasound. Once the follicle becomes mature, the female is instructed to take a human chorionic gonadotropin injection (hCG trigger shot). Following this injection, the female may have one to two intrauterine inseminations. The next step is waiting approximately two weeks for a pregnancy test.

Here is a link to an excellent video on IUI

Next, the abbreviation IVF, it refers to in vitro fertilization. This procedure is also a very common practice at our office, but it has its differences from the IUI process. The basis of IVF is that it deals with the stimulation of a woman’s ovaries in order to produce multiple eggs at once. In order to produce multiple eggs there are various hormone injections that may be taken. While intrauterine insemination has only one injection, in vitro fertilization has multiple injections that are administered during an 8-12 day period. Once a patient has taken these medications, she will again have to take the hCG trigger shot to stimulate ovulation. Then, under anesthesia the eggs are removed from the ovaries, which is referred to as an egg retrieval, and the fertilization process takes place in a laboratory. Prior to fertilization occurring, the partner will need to have provided a specimen of sperm, frozen specimen of sperm, or again, donor sperm can be used. This entire process then results in embryos that will divide and culture in the laboratory in preparation to having an embryo transfer. The embryo transfer is when the embryo(s) are directly placed into the uterus. After the embryo transfer one must wait between 12-14 days prior to the pregnancy test.

Although both of these methods of treatment are offered through InVia fertility one may or may not be the proper method of treatment for you to start out with. It is best to first sit down and meet with a physician to discuss and develop a treatment plan.


Infertility treatment IVF InVia Fertility Specialists Ovulation Induction

Deanna Fedorenko

Deanna Fedorenko

Deanna graduated as a medical assistant from First Institute and joined the team of InVia in April 2012. For 2 years prior to working here, she was a nursing assistant. Deanna enjoys working with patients and providing them with excellent care. At InVia, she continues to enjoy helping couples pursue their dream of having a healthy, happy, and growing family.


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