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What is the difference between IUI & IVF Treatments?
When my doctor brought up the idea of trying a few rounds of IUI I honestly didn’t know too much about it. Usually when you hear of infertility treatments, it’s all about IVF’s. So what is the difference?
An IUI stands for “Intrauterine Insemination”. It’s a pretty simple procedure. They take the sperm and put it directly in your uterus. This increases the number of sperm that reaches the Fallopian tubes, with the hope that one will fertilize.
IVF stand for “In Vitro Fertilization”. In this process they take both the egg and sperm to fertilize them together in the best conditions possible. If fertilization is successful the egg is implanted in your uterus.
It is common to start with a few IUI’s before moving onto IVF for a couple different reasons. The cost is way less, and the process is less invasive.
Preparing for my IUI
I was instructed to closely track my ovulation. Once I had a positive LH surge I called to schedule an appointment for the next day. Ovulation occurs somewhere between 24-36 hours after your LH surge.
The easiest way to detect your LH surge is by using an ovulation test. The results are a little different than a pregnancy test. The test still has a control line for reference, but a faint second line would be considered negative. When the second line on the test is either darker, or as dark as the control line, you have a positive test.
Here are some ovulation tests that are really easy to use and you get 50 of them. Which is a great deal! This box also comes with 20 pregnancy tests as a bonus.
The appointment went really smoothly. We were surprised with how easy it was!
We waited for them to clean and separate the sperm, which took about 30 minutes. They do use the healthiest, strongest sperm. Then my doctor took a small catheter and inserted the sperm in my uterus. It didn’t hurt. It was uncomfortable of course, but not painful. After that we had to wait about 20 minutes until I could get up and move, and we were on our way!
Just like that it was done.
Just a tip from my experience: stay as relaxed as possible during the procedure. I was warned ahead of time that cramping can cause your uterus to reject the sperm. My doctor was aware that I have cramped before during similar procedures, because she has been my doctor for a few years now, so she went about the process a little differently and it went smoothly! No cramping for me!
Now there’s still the matter of success rates and if it will actually work?
You have about a 10-20% chance of getting pregnant from an IUI, if you are under 35. (Note that these percentages do go down if you are older.) Which is about the same chance you have of getting pregnant on your own. So no, it doesn’t necessarily make the percentage higher, but it never hurts to have a little extra help. Especially with certain issues, like low sperm motility or irregular cycles.
If you or your spouse are on fertility drugs, that can possibly increase your chances of a successful IUI as well.
Most people only do a few rounds of IUI before moving on. This is when the option of IVF comes into play. The recommendation for us was three rounds. The success rates go down after three unsuccessful rounds.
Of course there are always varying factors. Everyone’s body is different and it’s still a game of perfect timing and chance, but I hope this answered some of your questions about IUI’s. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out!