IUI, ICI, IVI. All different acronyms – heavy on the vowels – to describe different types of artificial insemination. Just what is artificial insemination?
What artificial insemination is and the types to consider
It’s essentially when sperm is introduced into a female’s uterus or cervix with the hope of getting pregnant without sexual intercourse. You might think of it as a little bit of assistance with getting pregnant. Just how are these methods different?
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. This insemination method injects the sperm directly into the uterus. Because this insemination method will place sperm closer to the egg that other insemination methods, IUI is believed to have a slightly higher success rate than other methods. Many people who undergo IUI (and the following two forms of insemination, ICI and IVI) do it while also taking fertility drugs to increase egg production and, as a result, increase the chances of getting pregnant. If you’ve heard about IUI leading to a higher chance of multiples, it’s likely because of accompanying fertility treatments, not the procedure itself.
ICI isn’t a tasty frozen treat you can get at your local movie theatre – it stands for intracervical insemination. Intracervical insemination happens when sperm is injected into the cervix, which is the tissue that connects the vagina and the uterus. Unlike IUI, you can perform ICI with unwashed sperm. There is a recommendation that IUI and ICI be performed by a healthcare provider, but some couples have found success performing these methods of artificial insemination at home.
IVI means intravaginal insemination, which is when sperm is injected into the vagina. Of the three methods of artificial insemination, this one places the sperm farthest from the egg and therefore has the lowest success rate. However, it’s the cheapest method and doesn’t necessarily require assistance from a healthcare provider. If you’d like to try intravaginal insemination at home, it can be done with a clean syringe or a cervical cap.
You’ve probably heard of IVF, which stands for in-vitro fertilization, but this procedure isn’t actually a method of artificial insemination. IVF is sometimes confused with the above methods and believed to be a kind of artificial insemination, but it’s actually another type of assisted reproductive technology. For IVF, semen and an egg are combined to form an embryo, and that embryo is then implanted into the uterus.
So which method is best?
Each method of artificial insemination has its own set of benefits. The cheapest method of artificial insemination is IVI, and if you’re looking to inseminate at home, you might want to consider this method. But the most effective method might be IUI. And IVF is an effective form of assisted reproductive technology, but it’s expensive, and, like all of these methods, it isn’t guaranteed to work. Really, if you need a little bit of help getting pregnant and are considering one of these methods, it’s advisable to speak with your healthcare provider or a fertility specialist so that they can help you decide which method will be best for you.