Realising that building a family isn’t going to be as easy as you’d expected can be hard.
If you’ve been having trouble conceiving, you may now be thinking about having fertility treatment to help. But with a number of methods to consider, it can be tricky to know where to begin.
The most common types of fertility treatment that people turn to when starting to think about fertility treatment are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
These can be confusing terms when you’ve only just started your research. But you’re in the right place – there’s no medical jargon here.
Feel more confident in making a decision by discovering what IVF and IUI mean – and the key differences between them.
What is IUI?
IUI takes place inside the body. This method takes the best sperm and inserts them directly into a woman's uterus during ovulation. This decreases the distance the sperm has to travel to the egg, improving the chances of conceiving.
IUI uses a woman's own eggs and either the sperm of a partner or donor sperm.
What is IVF?
IVF takes place outside the body. Eggs are taken out of the body and are fertilised with sperm in a lab before being transferred into the uterus to implant.
IVF can be done in a number of ways using any combination of your eggs, donor eggs and your partner's sperm, or donor eggs and donor sperm.
IVF vs IUI
Every person’s fertility is unique. You should always talk to a doctor or fertility specialist to get a better picture of your fertility treatment options. They’ll talk you through what’s involved and assess your chances of success with each treatment so that you can make the best choice.
Who is IUI for?
You may wish to have IUI treatment if:
- you’re using donated sperm and have no female fertility problems;
- you’re a heterosexual couple who can’t or finds it difficult to have sex;
- you’re in a same-sex couple;
- you have a health condition which means you need help conceiving safely;
- you have unexplained fertility problems.
Who is IVF for?
IVF might be an option for you if:
- you have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes;
- you have difficulty ovulating or unexplained fertility problems;
- you have a low sperm count, or sperm that is abnormally shaped or slow;
- your age means that other treatments may not work for you;
- previous, less invasive fertility treatments haven’t worked for you;
- you’re using a surrogate.
Which treatment is less invasive?
IUI is a shorter, less invasive treatment than IVF. But fertility treatment is never easy, whichever method you use. All treatment types are invasive to some degree, so it’s about choosing the one that’s most likely to be successful for you. Finding out as much as you can about the IVF process before you start can help you feel more prepared for treatment.
IUI vs IVF success rates
IUI tends to be one-third as successful as IVF. This is because IUI treatment relies on the sperm naturally fertilising an egg once injected. With IVF, an already fertilised egg (embryo) is transferred back into the body.
How successful IUI and IVF could be for you depends on your personal health factors as well as your age. Your doctor will be able to give you more guidance as to whether either of these fertility treatments may work for you.
What’s the cost of IUI vs IVF?
Our data tells us that on average IVF costs anywhere between £3,750 and £7,800 per cycle. The true cost of IVF is hard to pin down as prices from clinic to clinic can vary widely and there are often additional hidden costs to bear in mind.
IUI is much less expensive, with one cycle costing around one-third of one cycle of IVF.