disclaimer: I am not a medical expert, so this is just my understanding from a personal point of view. Please seek professional medical advice before making a decision about your options.
If you have decided to have a baby on your own, you’ll need to decide which method you’ll use. The 2 options I was considering between was IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and IUI (Intrauterine insemination). One of the questions I often get is why did I choose IVF, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to explain my rationale and my understanding of the 2 different procedures.
IUI is a procedure where the highest quality sperm are selected and injected through a thin tube directly into a woman’s uterus, where they are left to fertilise the eggs naturally. This procedure is timed according to a woman’s ovulation. Since the IUI procedure deposits higher concentrations of good quality sperm close to where the egg is waiting, the chances that the egg and sperm will find one another are increased.
This treatment doesn’t involve fertility drugs (in most cases), so is much quicker, cheaper and easier than IVF. It also has a much lower success rate than IVF.
IVF is the most successful method of fertility treatment utilised today. The ovaries are stimulated with drugs to produce multiple eggs at a time, the eggs are then removed from the ovary (egg retrieval), mixed with sperm in a lab and hopefully fertilise. Then the resulting embryo is placed back into the uterus. (embryo transfer)
Success Rates (taken from HFEA latest report):
Women aged under 35 the birth rate was 16% for stimulated and 14% for unstimulated, women aged 35-37 the birth rate was 15% for stimulated and 12% for unstimulated, women aged 38-39 the birth rate was 9% for stimulated and 9% for unstimulated, women aged 40-42 the birth rate was 6% for stimulated and 5% for unstimulated and women aged 43-44 the birth rate was 1% for stimulated and 0% for unstimulated.
Women aged under 35 had a 34% birth rate, women aged 35-37 had a 23% birth rate, women aged 38-39 had a 18% birth rate, women aged 40-42 had a 9% birth rate, women aged 43-44 had a 4% birth rate, women aged over 44 had a 2% birth rate.
So why did I choose IVF?
- The chances of becoming pregnant are significantly higher from IVF than with IUI. I wanted to give myself the highest chance to get pregnant the 1st time I tried
- I was living abroad so wanted to minimise the amount of times I needed to travel back to Manchester to the clinic, I felt that with IUI I might need to take more attempts and therefore be needed at the clinic more often
- I had saved up the money to pay for IVF, so the cost wasn’t prohibitive. Also I felt that I could end up spending the same money if I had to do several attempts at IUI, or even more if I needed to try IVF after a failed IUI attempt
- I wanted the highest chance for success as the disappointment of a negative pregnancy test takes it’s toll emotionally and I wanted to try to limit that disappointment
- IUI with fertility medication carries a significant risk of multiple pregnancies and this is something I thought would be very difficult based on the fact I was on my own.
I know people who have tried IUI and have been successful first time, but others where it has taken 3 or 4 times or more or not been successful at all, some have then moved onto IVF.
In the end, it’s all a bit of a gamble. Maybe if I’d done IUI I would have been successful first time, or maybe I would have had multiple failed attempts and then had to try IVF anyway, there is just no way of knowing.
The main things I would take into consideration are:
- Your finances. IUI is considerably cheaper, but you would need to bear in mind that you may need to try many more times so the costs can still escalate
- Success Rates: IVF has a much higher success rate that IUI according to the statistics
- Intrusiveness of the medical procedure: IVF is a tough procedure for anyone to go through, and can be especially hard to go through on your own. IUI is a much simpler process. Even with the use of fertility drugs, going through IUI is less physically demanding than undergoing IVF.
- Multiple pregnancies: IUI with fertility medication carries a significant risk of multiple pregnancies.
I’d love to hear from you on how you decided which procedure to try and any advice you have to help others who are trying to decide between the two procedures.