First, let’s talk about the difference between the two procedures. IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is when sperm is deposited in to the uterus just before ovulation. Most doctors have the patient “trigger” by injecting medication to cause ovulation to occur. This helps guarantee that the timing of the IUI is just right for the sperm to meet the egg and form an embryo.
Certain drugs that stimulate the ovaries to grow more follicles can also be used during an IUI cycle. Clomid is a drug used frequently for IUI cycles and is taken orally. Patients needing something more aggressive may need to inject drugs that are stronger. Usually once the IUI procedure has been performed, no more drugs are needed. Two weeks later we find out if it was successful with a home pregnancy test.
IVF usually involves injections starting on cycle day two and lasting for about ten days. Just like IUI, when it looks like the time is right the patient will “trigger” so the eggs are ready. 34 hours after the trigger shot, the patient’s doctor will surgically retrieve the eggs. The father’s sperm and the eggs will be combined in a lab to create embryos and three to five days later the embryos are returned to the uterus. This is called IVF transfer. Twelve days later a blood pregnancy test will determine if the IVF transfer was successful.
So how to choose which procedure is right for you?
Generally speaking, IUI is less invasive than IVF. Many patients choose to start with IUI for this reason and then move on to IVF if they are unsuccessful. The problem is that IUI has a lower success rate than IVF. Many times a patient will have to do multiple IUIs to become pregnant. If a patient is older and her ovarian reserve may be diminishing six months of unsuccessful IUIs may end up wasting precious time so IVF would be a better choice for her. Doctors are also able to be more aggressive with medication during an IVF cycle in a way they can’t with IUI because of the risk of multiples. So in the case of diminished ovarian reserve or advanced maternal age, IVF is usually the better choice.
Another factor is the husband’s sperm. If the husband’s sperm count is moderately low or motility is poor, IUI might be the way to go just to give the sperm a head start, so to speak. If the sperm count is very low or there is a serious problem with morphology, IVF is probably the better choice.
Generally speaking, when patients are younger, say under the age of 36, and there are minor problems with sperm, IUI is probably a great place to start. If patients are older than 37 and there are morphology problems as well as diminished ovarian reserve, IVF is probably the way to go. Your doctor will be able to help you make the best choice but it is great to be informed when making the decision.
When doing IUI or IVF please remember to GET ACUPNCTURE TREATMENTS. Acupuncture has been proven time and again to increase ongoing pregnancy rates for patients doing assisted reproductive therapies like IVF and IUI.