Glow • Sat Nov 19. 2016

You’ve been thinking about fertility treatment, but what are your options?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are among the most common fertility treatments.  

Is IUI or IVF right for you? What’s the difference between IUI and IVF? What factors should you consider when deciding between IUI and IVF? So many questions!

But your first question should be why are you considering fertility treatment. The why will determine whether using IUI or IVF makes the most sense.

Why IUI?

If your partner’s sperm just needs a little help getting to your egg, IUI might be right for you.

It is a long journey to get to that egg! With sex, the man’s sperm has to travel from the vagina, to the cervix, to the uterus, and then to one of the fallopian tubes. And, there’s timing. Ovulation must have taken place and a fully mature egg needs to be waiting once the sperm cells that have completed the long journey have arrived at their destination.

Perhaps your partner has low sperm count—IUI can ensure that available sperm reach their destination.

Perhaps you have an ovulation disorder—ovulation-inducing medicine combined with IUI can help your egg and your partner’s sperm get the timing right.

Perhaps you’ve decided to use donor sperm or your partner has previously decided to freeze his sperm (usually done before invasive treatments that might affect reproduction)—IUI will deliver that previously collected sperm to your egg.

In all these cases, IUI might be a great choice.

IUI might also be the right choice when you and your doctor aren’t sure of the reason why you haven’t been able to get pregnant. IUI costs less than IVF, and many couples will choose IUI to try to solve their fertility issues before approaching IVF. IUI costs between $300-$2,000 per treatment, whereas IVF can be between $12,000-$17,000 per treatment, so the cost savings are significant.

Why IVF?

All IUI scenarios assume that the woman has at least one open fallopian tube, has good egg quality, and that her ovulation can be induced with medications. If these pre-conditions have not been met, then IVF is a more appropriate choice.

IUI delivers healthy sperm to the right location at the right time, but leaves the chance and the process of fertilization to the body. With IVF, the sperm and egg are combined in a lab to create the embryo. Only once the embryo is formed will it be inserted into the body.

Here’s the process in more detail: IVF leverages fertility medication to produce multiple eggs, and those eggs are fertilized with the donor’s sperm in a lab. Usually multiple embryos are created, and doctors choose the strongest, healthiest embryo to plant back into the uterus. Other embryos can be frozen and donated, or used for subsequent rounds of IVF.

IVF allows doctors to better control the situation and leaves less to chance. This might be necessary, depending on your health and age. IVF also has better success rates depending on your health and age, so, in some cases, patients choose to skip IUI in favor of IVF.

The Glow fertility tracking app and its daily health log can help you collect data to make informed decisions about future fertility treatments. Glow Pages can help you research which clinic and doctor makes sense for your IUI or IVF procedure, if you choose to go either of these routes.

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