Couples often are at crossroads when it comes to opting for the most viable treatment for assisted reproduction and most often are in a dilemma. There are several options to consider when it comes to fertility treatments. Many people are still unaware of the options available to them to treat infertility issues. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) & Intrauterine insemination (IUI) are two common fertility treatments recommended by doctors. It is important that you know the difference between these two procedures and see what is best for you.
IVF-n-vitro fertilization is a process in which a woman’s eggs are extracted or retrieved using a needle and fertilized or combined with a sperm in the laboratory. Then, the embryo is monitored for some time and placed in the woman’s uterus when ready.
IUI-On the other hand, in intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination, the woman’s eggs are not retrieved. Instead, the sperm of the male partner is washed and then transferred into the uterus for fertilization. The sperm will travel the natural way, through the cervix and up to the fallopian tubes.
IVF is considered a more reliable and successful treatment than IUI. IVF treatment more definitely enhances the chances of conception among women and therefore is a more preferred treatment.
One of the key differences between both the procedures is the requirement of eggs. Under the IUI procedure, a woman only needs to produce one or two eggs for fertilization to take place. On the other hand, for the IVF procedure to be successful, women should produce multiple mature eggs. This is done through medications that induce the growth of the eggs and bring about ovulation. Even after retrieval of 10-15 healthy eggs, there is a possibility that none of them might result in a pregnancy and some cases, multiple pregnancies can happen. Fertility drugs have to be taken in both procedures to increase the success rate. These hormonal medications can have a few side effects but they last for a short period.
IUI being a non-invasive and less expensive treatment involves fewer steps. Doctors generally recommend some cycles of IUI (where other parameters are normal) before going for IVF. In case, IUI treatment fails, doctors suggest couples to go for IVF.
IUI can be helpful for women who do not undergo ovulation regularly. It can also help men if their sperm quality is mildly affected, by increasing the chances of fertilization. While IVF is beneficial for women who have blocked fallopian tubes and suffer from PCOD, endometriosis, premature ovarian failure etc., which prevent a natural pregnancy, couples facing unexplained infertility also choose IVF treatment to help them conceive a healthy child.
The risk of multiple pregnancies with IVF can be reduced by transferring only one embryo. The rest of the embryos can be frozen and used later in future. While there is no risk of premature births in IUI, there is a slightly raised risk of low birth weight and premature birth after IVF treatment.
Although IVF has high success rates, the success of both treatments depends on several variables like age, infertility issue, current health issue etc. It is better to take help from a fertility specialist to know your chances of conceiving with both methods. For some couples, IUI might work better while for others, IVF can give the way. Both the procedures use the highest quality of sperms for fertilization to happen.
By Dr. Satabdi Dey, Fertility Specialist, Nova IVF Fertility, Siliguri