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The Differences between IUI vs. IVF: Process, Costs, and Success Rates

IUI vs. IVF: Process, Costs, and Success Rates
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two vastly different fertility treatments that have been used for decades to help couples struggling to conceive. While both treatments utilize unique methods of conception, patients often confuse them as being the same thing. When it comes to your fertility health and status, it’s important to know the difference between IUI vs. IVF. In this article we’ll take a look at the different conception processes, how much they cost, and what their success rates are.

IUI vs. IVF Overview: What’s the Difference?

If you and your significant other are struggling to conceive, then it’s important to explore all of your fertility treatment options. After carefully examining your health and medical history, the resident reproductive endocrinologist at your fertility clinic will explain all of your conception options to you. Together, you can decide whether IUI or IVF is the right course of action for you.

What Is IUI?

IUI is a minimally invasive fertility treatment that involves placing the most viable sperm specimens in direct or close contact with the egg inside the woman’s uterus to substantially increase the chances of conception. This is a form of artificial insemination that ensures a higher concentration of healthy and viable sperm are placed within close proximity to the egg that’s waiting to be fertilized in the fallopian tube during the ovulation process. Fertility medications like Clomid are prescribed in combination with IUI treatment to promote the production of multiple healthy and potentially viable eggs, which exponentially helps to increase the chances of conception. While the patient is taking these medications, the fertility clinic will monitor their health by performing routine ultrasounds and blood tests. The IUI procedure will be scheduled to take place during the patient’s next ovulation period. A sperm sample is collected either from the patient’s partner or a donor by the clinic where it will be purified and segregated from the semen and any other chemicals that could potentially get in the way of the fertilization process. Following that, the sperm is placed inside a catheter and injected directly into the uterus through the vagina. Despite how it sounds, IUI is actually a relatively quick and painless procedure.

What Is IVF?

The IVF process starts off in a similar fashion to IUI. The patient is prescribed fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce a large number of eggs. The patient will be monitored and undergo various ultrasounds and blood tests to make sure they’re healthy enough to move forward with procedure. Once the viable eggs have made their way into the fallopian tube and matured, the fertility doctor will retrieve and remove them. This process is slightly more invasive, time-consuming, and somewhat complex than IUI. The patient is placed under general anesthesia, so they won’t feel a thing. A thin needle is carefully inserted into the ovary through the vagina in order to retrieve the eggs. An embryologist is then brought in to examine the retrieved fluids and isolate the eggs, which are then fertilized with the clean sperm. The eggs are then placed inside an incubator where they’re carefully monitored until they grow to the blastocyst stage of fertilization (day five or six of pregnancy). During this time, the patient has several options in terms of deciding how they want to proceed.
  • Embryos that are deemed to be healthy following preimplantation genetic testing can either be transferred into the uterus
  • Or the patient can have the embryos cryopreserved or frozen until they’re ready to be impregnated.

Overcoming Infertility: IUI vs. IVF

Both IUI and IVF have their advantages and have helped thousands of couples conceive pregnancy. However, it’s important to make the right choice based on your medical history, pre-existing health conditions, finances, and other mitigating factors.

Tackling Infertility with IUI

IUI is less time-consuming, less complex, and it yields better results for couples that are dealing with mild male-factor infertility issues wherein in the man is unable to produce enough viable sperm to illicit conception. This process is also most commonly used for women under the age of 40 and couples who have unexplained fertility issues. As always, your fertility doctor will review your medical history and make the appropriate fertility treatment recommendations.

When Is IVF the Right Choice?

IVF is typically used in cases where women are diagnosed with advanced endometriosis (a condition that affects women of reproductive age, wherein cells from the uterine lining make their way into the ovaries, making it difficult to get pregnant). Blocked fallopian tubes and failed IUI treatments can also lead fertility doctors to recommend IVF treatment. Because IVF treatment is far more invasive, time-consuming, and costly, most fertility doctors usually recommend trying IUI treatment first.

What Are the Cost Differences between IUI and IVF Treatment?

The cost differences for both IUI and IVF treatment in Canada are considerable. However, the average costs for the treatments, lab fees, and even insurance coverage may vary from province to province. Let’s take a look at the figures for Ontario.

How Much Does IUI Cost in Ontario?

The average cost of IUI treatment ranges anywhere between $1,500 to about $4,000. But that’s just for the injection alone. The sperm wash is another $500, plus the cost of the medications involved. The types and dosages of the medications vary from patient to patient, so you’ll have to discuss that with your doctor. The good news is that OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covers unlimited cycles of IUI treatment, but you have to pay for the sperm wash out of pocket.

How Much Does IVF Cost in Ontario?

IVF treatment comes with a much higher price tag, ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. Currently, OHIP only covers a single IVF cycle of treatment per patient per lifetime for women under the age of 43. Subsequent treatments must be paid for out of pocket.

IUI vs. IVF Success Rates

Success rates for both fertility treatments vary based on individual circumstances. For IUI, studies vary, but there is an average success rate of 5-15% depending on the patient’s circumstances and the fertility drugs used. Meanwhile for IVF, about 33% of women are likely to conceive a baby as a result of their first cycle. One study found that by the eighth cycle, that percentage jumps to about 54% to 77%. ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo provides comprehensive fertility care to all of our patients. We’ll assess your current health and medical history and map out an appropriate fertility plan based on your needs and budget. Whether you suffer from endometriosis, male factor infertility, or unspecified fertility issues, we offer compassionate care and infertility counselling to ensure that you receive high-quality fertility treatment. Contact our clinic today to set up a consultation.


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