Causes & Treatment

IVF after IUI – guidance, procedures and success rates

Emma Harpham in partnership with Generation Next Fertility  |   13 Oct 2023


Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, is a minimally invasive fertility treatment that’s often the next step after being unable to get pregnant via intercourse. 

But, what if you’re there right now, and it’s not working out the way you’d hoped? When should you switch from IUI to IVF?

IVF after IUI – there’s quite a bit to it

Making this decision represents an important step for anyone on a fertility journey – and it can easily feel like an overwhelming one at that. We’re with you 100% on this, so we asked Dr Luk at Generation Next Fertility for the 101.

Keep reading for her expert insight on:

  • When to try IVF after IUI
  • The success rates to know
  • How to seek support 
  • And more

Looking for a clinic that understands? Make Generation Next Fertility your first choice when it comes to compassionate treatment and empathetic support options, for all of the steps a fertility treatment journey can bring with it. 

With locations in Manhattan and Hartsdale, NY, their highly trained team offers innovative treatment combined with 360 emotional support. They’ve even launched their own podcast called Heart to Heart – a safe and informative space for sharing the stories of those struggling with fertility. Listen in and find out more here.

Now, over to Dr Luk.

IVF after IUI support

IUI vs IVF – the lowdown

IUI is a common first step

During IUI, washed and processed sperm is carefully placed directly into the woman’s uterus, near the time of ovulation. This procedure increases the chances of fertilization by reducing the distance the sperm must travel to reach the egg.

IUI typically has success rates that are 3-5% higher than natural conception through intercourse alone. This is due to the fact that IUI places millions of specially processed sperm at the top of the uterus, increasing the chances of sperm meeting the egg. However, it’s important to note that IUI is generally more suitable for couples with less severe fertility issues.

How does the procedure compare to IVF? 

In IVF, the woman’s eggs are first carefully collected from her ovaries using a minor surgical procedure. These eggs are then combined with sperm from the partner or a donor in a laboratory setting. The fertilization process takes place outside the woman’s body, in a specialized dish or culture media.

Once fertilization is successful, resulting embryos are cultured for a few days to allow them to develop and grow. After this incubation period, one or more of the healthiest embryos are selected for transfer into the woman’s uterus. This is usually done by placing the embryos directly into the uterine cavity, where they can hopefully implant and develop into a pregnancy. Any remaining viable embryos may be cryopreserved (frozen) for future use.

What if IUI keeps failing?

IUI can be an effective fertility treatment for some couples, but there are many factors to consider when it doesn’t yield the desired results, like the quality of the eggs and sperm. 

Additionally, there may be unknown or unexplained circumstances affecting fertility, which can also lead to failed IUI attempts. It’s also worth noting that IUI is typically more successful when the woman’s fallopian tubes are normal, as this allows for the natural transport of the fertilized egg to the uterus.

If you find yourself in a situation where IUI keeps failing, it can understandably be a frustrating and disheartening experience. Consulting with a fertility specialist to explore potential underlying causes and determine the most appropriate next steps would be the best.

The tests to ask for

You may want to inquire about specific tests to gain a better understanding of your fertility status like with Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) testing, which can provide insight into ovarian reserve and egg quantity. General health indicators that can uncover any underlying medical issues impacting fertility are also good tests to request along with looking into thyroid function and stress levels as well.

IUI vs ivf

IVF after IUI success rates – what should I know?

IVF does indeed offer a higher likelihood of success when compared to IUI, especially in cases where previous IUI attempts have not resulted in a pregnancy. 

In IVF, viable eggs are carefully retrieved from the ovaries, and these eggs are then fertilized with sperm in a controlled laboratory environment. This laboratory setting allows for direct contact between sperm and egg, which can significantly increase the fertilization rate. This controlled environment also bypasses potential sperm quality issues that might have been a contributing factor in the failed IUI cycles.

Younger women, typically under the age of 35, tend to have higher IVF success rates because they generally produce healthier eggs. As women age, the quality and quantity of eggs tend to decline, which can impact the overall success rate of IVF. However, even for older individuals or couples, IVF often offers a better chance of achieving a successful pregnancy compared to IUI.

How can I make sure I’m getting the right support?

Seeking support and guidance when making important decisions or taking the next step in your fertility journey is crucial. You don’t have to navigate this process alone, and there are various avenues for support. 

Scheduling a consultation with a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist is often the first step in order to have an in-depth conversation about treatments like IUI, IVF, or other fertility interventions. 

Your family and partner can also play a key role in providing emotional support during this journey and are often a source of strength for the patients going through these experiences. 

Additionally, consider exploring fertility support groups, either in-person or online. At Generation Next Fertility, we have a peer to peer fertility support group called Candid Conversations that meets regularly. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a setting that understands what you’re going through can provide a lot of comfort as you make these important decisions.

Connect with Generation Next Fertility today and book a consultation – they’re here for you, whenever you’re ready to take the next step.

Make sure you follow them on Instagram @gen.next.fertillity and @goodluckluk too, for daily bite-size insights, tips and more.

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