Becoming a parent is a normal human desire, but it is not always easy to have a baby the usual way. Some couples have infertility issues. There are numerous fertility programs that can help couples and individuals in conceiving a child. Among the more well-known approaches are in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination (Intrauterine Insemination or IUI). IVF vs artificial insemination – which one is better?
Both have been proven to be successful procedures, but both also come with risks. In this IVF vs artificial insemination primer, we will help you understand both procedures.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination is a procedure that places sperm into a woman’s cervix or uterus.
The procedure starts with the fertility doctor assessing the fallopian tubes to check for scarring or endometriosis. This disease makes parts of the female reproductive organs stick to each other. Fertilization usually occurs in the fallopian tubes, so they must be checked before the procedure to make sure they are in good condition.
The next steps involve stimulating the woman’s ovulation with clomiphene and then monitoring the woman’s ovulation cycle. On the day the ovary releases an ovum, sperm from the partner or donor is collected, washed, then inserted into the woman’s uterus with a catheter.
Does Sperm Quality Affect Outcome?
Artificial insemination requires good quality sperm because even though it will be injected deep into the uterus, the sperm will still need to swim to the egg as with the natural method. For the best quality, sperm needs to be fresh, meaning it should be collected on the same day the sample will be inserted. For those working with donor sperm, frozen sperm can be used. But the thawed sperm must be assessed first for quality. It must be strong enough to swim.
If after three ovulation cycles and pregnancy does not occur, another round of clomiphene, monitoring of ovulation, and artificial insemination will be performed. For the third attempt, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) will be injected to stimulate ovulation. Your doctor may recommend in vitro fertilization if the three attempts are not successful.
What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assisted reproductive technology procedure that involves fertilizing the eggs outside of the body. The embryos will then be transplanted into the uterus.
As with artificial insemination, the woman’s ovulation will first be stimulated with clomiphene and hCG. A day and a half after the hCG is injected, the woman must have her eggs harvested. These eggs are assessed for quality and if they are mature enough for fertilization.
The best quality eggs will be cultured with sperm. For sperm that has problems with motility, are not high-quality, or are too few, fertilization is performed by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Next, if fertilization is successful, the fertility doctor will wait for the embryos to develop to the blastocyst stage. The doctor will select one embryo and will use a catheter and syringe to insert this embryo into the uterus of the woman. After 14 days, a simple pregnancy test will reveal if the embryo has successfully implanted.
The remaining embryos that are not transferred are frozen and stored. In case pregnancy does not occur, these may be used for future cycles. These embryos may also be donated to other couples with fertility issues.
IVF vs Artificial Insemination: Which One is for Me?
Artificial insemination is less expensive than IVF. It is also less invasive and less complicated. This is why it is the procedure that is recommended first.
The doctor will not readily advise artificial insemination right away unless it is deemed necessary. Since fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes, they must be properly functioning.
IVF is recommended when:
- The woman has damaged fallopian tubes, or the fallopian tubes are not intact
- She suffers from endometriosis
- The man has low-quality sperm
Pregnancies via artificial insemination have a 16% success rate for women 35 years old and below. On the other hand, IVF has a 40% success rate for women of the same age range. As the woman gets older, the pregnancy rates decrease so it is important to undergo fertility treatments and make use of assisted reproductive technology as soon as you can.
When it comes to IVF vs artificial insemination, the pregnancy costs for the atter are significantly lower.
While the pregnancy rates for IVF are better than artificial insemination, note that not all of these pregnancies result in a live birth. IVF can result in multiple pregnancies such as twins or more, which could then lead to low birth weight, preterm birth, and neonatal hospitalization.
There is also a difference when it comes to the risks of IVF vs artificial insemination. There is a slightly increased risk for genetic abnormalities with artificial insemination. This may be because of the quality of the sperm. There is a reason why fertility could not occur naturally and that may be because the sperm is not healthy enough or carries chromosomal or gene defects. Because artificial insemination bypasses nature’s barriers, the child may have these genetic abnormalities.
With IVF and especially when ICSI is used, the best sperm is chosen and injected into the ovum. When children born because of IVF were checked at 10 years old, most of them were healthy in all aspects.
While both procedures have been used for successful conception, neither procedure guarantees a successful pregnancy and live birth. As with the natural reproductive process, a healthy pregnancy depends on:
- The health of the mother
- Age of the woman
- The quality of her eggs
- The sperm quality and sperm count of the man
A man and a woman in excellent health will have a greater chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.
Now that you are more knowledgeable about IVF vs artificial insemination, consult with your obstetrician-gynecologist or fertility specialist for which procedure is best suited for you.
Learn more about Pregnancy here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.