Should I try IUI before IVF?

Their acronyms might sound familiar, but IUI and IVF are two very different types of fertility treatment. How they’re used also varies among women. Some women try one procedure, and other women try both; what’s right for you depends on a couple of different factors.

The procedures

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a doctor selecting the fastest sperm from a semen sample and injecting the sperm directly into the uterus. The second, in vitro fertilization (IVF), is performed by collecting eggs, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and then implanting them back into the uterus.

Who they help

Each procedure is especially helpful for women who have certain conditions or factors. IUI is most successful among women under 35 years of age, and who either have minimal endometriosis, unexplained infertility, mild male factor infertility, mild cervical scarring, or problems with their cervical mucus.

IVF is especially helpful for a slightly different group of women. It’s more often used among women who have any of the following factors: age-related infertility, problems with their fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, PCOS, difficulty producing healthy eggs, or ovulation problems.

Which comes first?

Because each procedure helps women differently, the question of which you should use first depends on your personal health, as well as what is impacting your fertility. For example, women with severe endometriosis or who have blocked fallopian tubes would probably be advised to skip IUI and try IVF first. But a woman who is 35 and has unexplained fertility could benefit from IUI, and would probably be encouraged to try it before IVF.

If you qualify for both procedures, your provider might recommend that you start with IUI. IVF is usually saved for women who haven’t successfully gotten pregnant from other fertility treatments. While IVF can be an incredibly rewarding process, IUI is less expensive, less invasive, and less time-consuming than IVF.

The bottom line on IUI and IVF

If you’re considering either (or both) of these treatments for infertility, have a conversation with your provider to determine which treatment is best for you. He or she can help you determine which has more potential to make your fertility journey a successful one.

  • “Are you a good candidate for IVF?” AttainFertility. IntegraMed America, Inc., 2016. Web.
  • Deborah Smith. “Intrauterine Insemination: Will it Help Me Conceive?” RESOLVE. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, 2016. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Infertility: Treatment.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 2 2016. Web.
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