IVF vs IUI vs ICSI: Which one is right for you?

Written by

Arva Health Team

31-Jan-2024

When you're exploring fertility treatments like IUI, IVF, and ICSI, it can feel like sorting through a bunch of jumbled letters.

But don't worry—it's not as complicated as it seems!

These are just some common acronyms used to describe fertility treatments.

Understanding what these acronyms mean can help you make sense of your fertility journey, and to choose which one is right for you.

What is Intra Uterine Insemination?

Breaking down the acronym 🤓: IUI or Intrauterine insemination (although it's also sometimes called artificial insemination)

👩🏻‍🔬How it works:

IUI involves Insertion of partner's sperm into the uterus.

During IUI, the sperm is processed in the lab to select the healthiest and most motile ones, which are then introduced directly into the uterus via a soft catheter around the time of ovulation.

The goal is to facilitate fertilization naturally within the fallopian tube, similar to the natural path sperm takes to reach the egg. But here, IUI provides a headstart and inserts sperm directly in the uterus, making their journey shorter.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization as the name suggests is fertilization that happens in the lab (in vitro). It involves various steps:

  1. IVF begins with hormonal medication to stimulate the ovaries, encouraging the production and maturation of multiple eggs. This is highly dependant on the egg count of the woman.

  2. Using ultrasound guidance, a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval collects the eggs from the ovaries. This is done under general anesthesia and is a mild to painless procedure which should last less than 45 minutes.

  3. The collected eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, a process known as insemination. If fertilization occurs, resulting embryos are monitored and grown in the lab for a maximum of 5-7 days.

  4. At this stage you can either freeze your embryos to be inserted later or be prepared for a fresh embryo transfer.

  5. Before or during the transfer, some embryos might undergo genetic testing to ensure they're chromosomally normal and free from certain genetic conditions.

  6. A specialist transfers one or more healthy embryos into the uterus using a catheter. Successful embryos implant in the uterus, potentially leading to pregnancy.

What is ICSI?

ICSI:  Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (usually pronounced ick-see)

The ICSI procedure is done instead of IVF in cases of severe male factor infertility, such as poor sperm count or quality.

How it works:

  1. Initially, the male partner's sperm is collected, typically in a collection cup. In some cases, when necessary, it might be surgically retrieved by a urologist directly from the testes or epididymis.

  2. The collected sperm sample undergoes an evaluation in the laboratory. The goal is to select the most viable and motile sperm for the fertilization process.

  3. The sperm sample is zoomed in at about 400x to check for any abnormalities, and to select the most viable sperm

  4. Simultaneously, as part of the process, egg retrieval occurs on the same day to retrieve mature eggs from the female partner.

  5. Once both samples are ready, ICSI involves injecting a single, carefully chosen sperm directly into a mature egg. This is performed by an experienced embryologist under highly controlled settings.

  6. Following successful fertilization, the resulting embryo is nurtured and cultured in the laboratory before being transferred to the woman's uterus during the embryo transfer procedure.

  7. After the embryo is implanted in the uterus, the hope is that it will continue to grow and develop, potentially leading to a successful pregnancy.

IVF vs IUI vs ICSI: Which treatment should you go for?

IVF, IUI and ICSI are three completely different procedures which are recommended solely based on you and your partner’s medical history, and the best treatment path for your unique case.

Most often, patients start with IUI and about 4 cycles or so, get recommended for an IVF cycle. There’s no “one plan fits all” case either. You may also be directly recommended for an IVF or ICSI cycle depending on your case.

Regardless of the procedure- it’s important to remember that the recommended treatment may just be the best fit for your unique fertility journey.

FAQs

  1. Is ICSI better than IUI?

IUI has lower success rates than ICSI, but this is attributed to the nature of the procedure. IUI is a simple, non invasive procedure, while ICSI is a highly specialised and precise procedure.

  1. Which is best, IVF or IUI?

IVF does a better job at addressing a broader range of infertility causes compared to IUI. It is often recommended when IUI treatments have been unsuccessful due to blocked fallopian tubes, presence of antisperm antibodies, endometriosis, secondary infertility and so on.

  1. Why choose ICSI over IVF?

ICSI is often chosen over IVF when there is severe male factor infertility. IVF depends on the motility of the sperm to swim and fertilise the egg. But in cases where the motility and DNA of the sperm is affected, ICSI is preferred.

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Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health

Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health

Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health