What is IVF, ICSI & IUI? 

What is IVF, ICSI & IUI?

IVF, ICSI and IUI are common procedures that can assist you to have a baby when natural conception is not working. They are all very different fertility treatments, and clients always wonder which would be the best option for them.

What are the differences between IVF, ICSI and IUI?

IVF In-Vitro Fertilisation

What is IVF treatment?

IVF involves using fertility drugs to gently stimulate the ovaries to produce good quality mature eggs, which are then retrieved and fertilised in the clinic’s laboratory with sperm from your partner (or a donor). The Sperm and eggs are placed together in a special dish and eggs monitored for signs of fertilisation.

The embryo of greatest quality is selected for transfer, where it is then placed into the uterus to implant and grow for pregnancy.

Advantages of IVF treatment

IVF maximises the chance of fertilisation by placing eggs with sperm. Your clinic can select the embryo with the highest potential for pregnancy. Many clinics have an advanced embryo selection method, which include time-lapse monitoring and Preimplantation Genetic Screening. If you have more than one good embryo from your cycle, you can also choose to freeze the remainder to use in future treatment cycles if you so wish.

Why IVF may be advised

IVF is intended to overcome issues that can prevent sperm from fertilising an egg, such as fallopian tube issues (scaring or blockages). It may also be advised in some cases of unexplained infertility, or in mild ‘male factor’ fertility cases.

ICSI Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

What is ICSI?

Instead of sperm being mixed with the egg in the laboratory, the best single, healthy sperm is extracted from the sample and injected directly into the egg to fertilise it.

Advantages of ICSI

ICSI can help achieve pregnancy when male factor fertility issues are seen. Due to the sperm being injected directly into the egg it bypasses the other stages of early fertilisation. Only the best quality sperm is used for fertilisation, which is identified by an embryologist.

Why ICSI may be advised

ICSI is designed to overcome male fertility issues, such as

  • low sperm count
  • poor sperm mobility,
  • surgically-retrieved sperm
  • High levels of DNA damage.

IUI Intrauterine Insemination

What is IUI?

It involves inserting sperm (or donor sperm) into your uterus at the time you are ovulating, in the hope the egg is fertilised for pregnancy. This is often referred to as artificial insemination.

Advantages of IUI

IUI can be carried out with natural cycles, without using fertility drugs, relying on the egg you naturally ovulate that month. However, as the outcome of IUI closely mimics natural conception, you may need more than one insemination attempt to achieve pregnancy.

Why IUI may be advised

Those who need donor sperm to conceive choose IUI as it can be a quick, simple way to try to achieve pregnancy.

For IUI to be successful, fallopian tubes must be clear, sperm must be healthy, and an egg must be mature to fertilise. If you have irregular ovulation, fertility drugs can be used in combination with IUI. Otherwise, IVF may be advised as an alternative.

IVF, ICSI or IUI: Which is best?

The results of your fertility tests will help your fertility clinic decide which type of fertility treatment is best for you. An individualised approach is vital to give you the highest chance of success.

The clinic will take into account factors such as your medical history, age, and response to any previous cycles of treatment you may have previously had.   

You may be given the option to try IUI, or they may recommend you go straight to IVF or ICSI, if your partner’s semen analysis test reveals a sperm abnormality.

IVF cost

The cost of private treatment can vary, but 1 cycle of IVF can cost up to £5,000 or more. There may be additional costs for medicines, consultations and tests.

All treatment decisions should be made in consultation with you, so you’re fully aware of what your treatment path involves and your likely outcome, along with transparent costs.

Remember that everyone’s fertility journey is different, and what may be advised for one person may not be right for you.

Finding a fertility doctor near me

If you are asking yourself ‘How do I find IVF near me that is trustworthy’? Use this reputable link to choose a fertility clinic service that’s right for you. If you’re an NHS patient, use it to research the clinic you’ll be having treatment at.