Blog > IUI vs IVF: What’s the Difference?

IUI vs IVF: What’s the Difference?

Explore the differences between IUI and IVF. Understand the processes, costs, risks, and success rates of these fertility treatments.

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Written by Apricity Team
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    When it comes to fertility treatments, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) are two of the most common options. Both have their own processes, costs, risks, and success rates, making it crucial to understand which might be best for you. Let's dive into the details and see how these two treatments stack up.

    Introduction to IUI and IVF

    Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's start with the basics. Both IUI and IVF are designed to assist with conception, but they do so in different ways. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision about your fertility journey.

    For comprehensive information on fertility treatments, check out our IVF package and IUI treatments.

    The Process: IUI vs IVF

    IUI Process

    IUI is a relatively simple procedure and is usually the first line of treatment for couples facing unexplained infertility, or cases with male factor infertility.  It involves placing washed sperm directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

    1. Medications are used to stimulate ovulation.

    2. Ultrasounds and blood tests monitor and track ovulation.

    3. Insemination: a thin catheter places the sperm into the uterus, ideally close to the time of ovulation.

    IVF Process

    IVF is more complex and involves several steps:

    1. Ovarian Stimulation: Medications stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.

    2. Egg Retrieval: Eggs are collected from the ovaries using a minor surgical procedure.

    3. Fertilisation: Eggs are fertilised with sperm in a lab, creating embryos.

    4. Embryo Transfer: One or more embryos are transferred to the uterus. Any additional embryos can be frozen for future cycles. 

    egg fertilisation ivf

    Is IVF more expensive than IUI?

    Cost of IUI

    IUI is generally less expensive than IVF. At Apricity a cycle of IUI costs £2,185, which includes all of the medication and monitoring you need. d monitoring. 

    Cost of IVF

    IVF is more costly, with the average cost in the UK for a single cycle including medication, consultations and tests coming in at over £7000. 

    Are there any risks with IUI or IVF? 

    The Risks of IUI

    • Multiple Pregnancies: The use of ovulation-stimulating medications increases the risk of twins or more.

    • Infection: Rare, but possible, due to the introduction of a catheter into the uterus.

    The Risks of IVF

    • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): A potential reaction to fertility drugs. This is very rare and doctors monitor very closely throughout a cycle to ensure it doesn’t develop. 

    • Multiple Pregnancies: Higher risk than IUI due to the transfer of multiple embryos.

    • Surgical Risks: there is a minimal risk of infection with egg collection. 

    Pros and Cons: IUI vs IVF

    IUI Pros

    • Less Invasive: IUI is a much simpler procedure and less physically demanding.

    • Lower Cost: More affordable compared to IVF.

    • Convenient: Fewer visits and procedures involved.

    IUI Cons

    • Lower Success Rates: Particularly for women over 35 or those with severe fertility issues.

    • Risk of Multiples: Can be higher with ovulation-inducing drugs.

    IVF Pros

    • Higher Success Rates: Especially beneficial for older women and those with complex fertility issues such as fallopian tube blockages.

    • Controlled Environment: Fertilisation occurs in a lab, allowing for monitoring and selection of the best embryos.

    • Genetic Screening: Possibility of screening embryos for genetic conditions.

    IVF Cons

    • Higher Cost: More expensive than IUI.

    • Invasive Procedures: Egg retrieval and embryo transfer are more physically demanding.

    Success Rates: IUI vs IVF

    IUI Success Rates

    IUI success rates can vary based on age and specific fertility issues:

    • Women under 35: Approximately 10-20% per cycle.

    • Women 35-40: Around 10% per cycle.

    • Women over 40: Less than 5% per cycle.

    IVF Success Rates

    IVF generally boasts higher success rates:

    • Women under 35: Approximately 40-45% per cycle.

    • Women 35-40: Around 30-35% per cycle.

    • Women over 40: About 15-20% per cycle.

    Should you have IUI or IVF? 

    Who is IUI Suitable For?

    IUI is often recommended for:

    • Couples with unexplained infertility.

    • Women with ovulation issues.

    • Men with mild sperm abnormalities, mild or moderate male infertility

    • Single women and same-sex couples using donor sperm.

    Who is IVF Suitable For?

    IVF is typically advised for:

    • Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.

    • Couples with severe male factor infertility.

    • Those who haven't had success with other treatments like IUI.

    • Women with age-related fertility decline.

    • Couples needing genetic screening.

    Some commonly asked questions we get in the clinic: 

    Is IUI More Effective Than IVF?

    No, IVF generally has higher success rates than IUI, particularly for women over 35 or those with severe fertility issues.

    What Are the Disadvantages of IUI?

    The main disadvantages of IUI include lower success rates compared to IVF and the potential for multiple pregnancies when using ovulation-stimulating drugs.

    What Is an IUI Baby?

    An IUI baby is a child conceived through intrauterine insemination, where sperm is directly placed into the uterus to facilitate fertilisation.

    Is IUI 100% Successful?

    Unfortunately, no fertility treatment can guarantee success. IUI success rates are generally lower than IVF, especially for women over 35.


    Choosing between IUI and IVF can be challenging, but understanding the differences in process, cost, risks, and success rates can help guide your decision. Both treatments offer hope for those struggling with infertility, but the best choice depends on your specific circumstances.

    For more detailed information, explore our IVF package, IUI treatments, and our insights on IVF success rates by age. If you're considering using donor eggs, check out our IVF with donor eggs page.

    Written by Apricity Team

    Helping you stay informed

    Written by our group of fertility experts and doctors consultants

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