What is IUI?
IUI (intrauterine insemination) is often the first form of fertility intervention for a patient to consider. IUI is a fertility treatment that uses a catheter to place a number of washed sperm directly into the uterus. The sperm then quickly reach the fallopian tubes where fertilization of the egg should take place. IUI is most often used for patients with open fallopian tubes and normal sperm in combination with fertility medications such as Clomid or FSH injections.
IUI is often overused in fertility treatment and in conjunction with fertility medications can lead to a significantly increased risk for multiple births.
For people with unexplained infertility it may be reasonable to consider Clomid and IUI for 2 to 3 cycles before moving on to IVF. FSH/IUI may yield slightly higher pregnancy rates and may be a better choice for women over 40 and those with diminished ovarian reserve or who do not respond well to Clomid. However, FSH carries a much higher risk than Clomid for ovarian hyperstimulation and multiple pregnancy, especially HOM – high order multiple pregnancy – triplets or more. 80% of triplet pregnancies in this country are a result of FSH/IUI rather than IVF. For most patients who fail lesser treatments, the use of FSH – (follicle stimulating hormone – injectable gonadotropins like Follistim, Gonal F and Menopur) should be used during an IVF cycle where ovarian hyperstimulation and multiple pregnancy risks can be better controlled.
When looking at IUI as a means of fertility treatment several factors should be considered. Though IUI is a less expensive treatment as compared to IVF it’s success rates are also significantly lower. Most studies show success rates between 5 and 15% for IUI, while IVF pregnancy rates for many patients are 5 to 10 times higher, making the overall cost per live birth much lower for IVF than for IUI.
If you have a cap on your fertility benefits, IVF may make more sense for you than IUI. This is a complex decision that is impacted by multiple medical, financial, insurance and personal factors. The IRMS team, including the doctors, nurses, IVF coordinators and the financial counselors have many years of experience assisting patients to be as informed as possible about their individual situation and are here to help you work through these complex decisions. Although we know the statistics and numbers quite well, you need to feel comfortable with the plan. Ultimately these decisions are up to you. We are just here to provide you with the information you need to make a decision and the support, counseling and medical expertise to provide you with the best modern fertility medicine has to offer.