Intrauterine insemination (IUI): How is it different from IVF?

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Intrauterine insemination: How is it done?

Question

What can you tell me about intrauterine insemination? When is it used? How is it different from IVF?

Annette
New York

Answer

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which sperm are placed in a woman's uterus through artificial means. IUI is most often recommended for couples with unexplained infertility or male factor infertility — such as a low sperm count or poor sperm motility. For many couples, intrauterine insemination is a more affordable and less invasive alternative to in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, IUI is not effective for infertility associated with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.

Intrauterine insemination involves injecting sperm directly into your uterus at the time of ovulation. This can be done using either your partner's sperm or a donor's sperm. Before the procedure, the sperm are "washed" and prepared for injection. Your doctor uses a soft tube (catheter) to deposit the sperm through your cervix and into your uterus at the time of ovulation. Fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation may be used in conjunction with intrauterine insemination. Success rates for IUI depend on many factors, including your age and the duration and cause of infertility.

In vitro fertilization is more complicated than intrauterine insemination because it involves manipulation of the woman's eggs. In IVF, mature eggs are removed from an ovary. The eggs are fertilized in the lab with a partner's sperm or a donor's sperm. Several days later, the fertilized eggs are implanted directly into the uterus. IVF is commonly used for infertility associated with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. It is also widely used for infertility associated with endometriosis and male factor infertility.

Last Updated: 07/12/2006
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