IUI vs. IVF: What’s the Difference?

Let’s explore the essential differences between these procedures that you need to know when you’re working on expanding your family.

Struggling to conceive? Welcome to the world of acronyms. While you’re tracking your DPO (days past ovulation) to know when to BD (baby dance), you might be wondering about IUI and IVF. What’s the difference between these two fertility treatments? Is one better for your situation than the other, and how can you decide between them? 

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Comparing IUI and IVF

Both IUI and IVF bypass some of your body’s regular mechanisms to help you have a baby. They differ in technique, timing, and level of invasiveness. 

IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) 

Also known as artificial insemination, IUI is a simple, in-office procedure where your doctor places a concentrated solution of sperm directly into your uterus. This lets the sperm bypass your cervix and shortens the travel distance through your fallopian tubes. 

In other words, IUI lets you bypass many of the complications that could potentially hamper conception from occurring naturally, such as a low sperm count or slow swimmers.

IUI tends to be one of the first steps women take when seeking fertility treatments. It gives sperm a head start and is highly effective for helping you get pregnant if you have reproductive issues like PCOS or insufficient cervical mucus. Same-sex couples and anyone using donor sperm can also use IUI to conceive. 

However, this fertility treatment can’t address any reproductive complications that aren’t related to conception itself, so it isn’t the right choice for everyone.  

Pros of IUI 

  • Great first step for fertility treatments
  • Takes just two weeks per cycle 
  • Minimally invasive 
  • Less expensive than IVF (averages $1,000 per session) 
  • outpatient procedure
  • Excellent choice for those using donor sperm


Cons of IUI

  • Less effective than IVF 
  • Doesn’t address any infertility factors beyond conception 


IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)


This fertility treatment is surging in popularity with people who have already exhausted less invasive options. An egg and sperm are combined in a lab setting, and the resulting embryo is then surgically implanted into the uterus. 

IVF gives you the flexibility to use your own eggs or those from a donor if yours aren’t suitable. Those using their own must first complete a round of fertility medication for several weeks that stimulates the ovaries to assist the egg retrieval process. 


After surgery, your fertility doctor will inseminate the eggs as quickly as possible, and the resulting embryos will be closely monitored for viability before determining which ones are the best candidates for developing into a baby.  


If all goes well, you may get up to half a dozen viable embryos. Many couples choose to store the unused ones for future use, so they have the option to expand their family without undergoing the egg retrieval process again.  

IVF has a high success rate because it completely bypasses some of the most common fertility problems, such as low sperm counts, ineffective fallopian tubes, or ovulation issues. It also offers hope for those who need to use donor eggs due to age or other factors, and it gives couples some control over the quality of the embryo that eventually gets implanted. That’s a critical factor for those with potentially devastating genetic diseases in their family line.

Pros of IVF: 

  • One of the most successful treatments for infertility 
  • Often requires only one egg retrieval for multiple children 
  • Bypasses the fallopian tubes entirely 
  • Works for women who freeze their eggs to have children later in life 
  • Gives you the option to use donor eggs

Cons of IVF:

  • Each treatment round is expensive (averages about $12,000-$20,000) 
  • Requires hormone treatments painful medical procedures for the woman 
  • The egg removal process can’t guarantee that any eggs will be viable


How Many Times Should I Do IUI Before IVF?


Both IUI and IVF offer hope for starting a family, but they serve different purposes and should be considered at different times in your fertility journey. IUI makes sense as a starting point for women with unexplained infertility or with a partner with a low sperm count. 

Most couples commit to multiple rounds of IUI to see whether the extra sperm boost helps them conceive naturally. If, after 3-6 rounds of IUI without success, your fertility doctor may determine that other factors are impacting your chances of conception and recommend IVF instead. 


Start Your Fertility Journey with Ovulation Tracking


It can be overwhelming knowing where to begin when you’re ready to expand your family. Before looking into IUI or IVF, consider starting simpler by tracking your ovulation to optimize your timing. 


Here at Zergo, we’re building the most precise ovulation test ever to help women get pregnant (or avoid getting pregnant!) through a better understanding of their own cycle. Our product is still in the works, but we promise it will transform the way you approach your reproductive health. 


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