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IUI vs. IVF: What’s the Difference—And What’s Right for You?

by Dr. Karenne Fru, Oma Fertility Atlanta
 • 8 min read
IUI vs. IVF: What’s the Difference—And What’s Right for You?

When comparing IUI vs. IVF for your fertility treatment, it's important to understand the differences between these two distinct options. The difference between IUI and IVF is that IUI inserts washed semen into a woman's uterus in an attempt to fertilize an egg, while IVF creates an embryo in a lab and then transfers it in the uterus where it hopefully implants. Find out more about artificial insemination vs. IVF to get started on your fertility journey. 

What Is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

Intrauterine insemination (or IUI) is a fertility treatment in which washed sperm is placed directly inside a woman's uterus. The process starts by notifying the clinic on the first day of  your cycle. Depending on your treatment plan, you typically take a limited course of oral medications that encourage the recruitment and growth of 1-2 dominant follicles. This is  followed by a trigger shot to induce ovulation. The timing of the trigger shot is determined by an ultrasound to see and measure the dominant follicles.

A day or two after the trigger shot, you'll come to the fertility clinic for insemination. The sperm sample is collected and washed, which essentially extracts the seminal fluid and only uses healthy sperm cells. Similar to a pap smear, the cervix is visualized using a vaginal speculum and the sperm is inserted through a tube that goes through your cervix into the uterus. The sperm is then deposited in the uterus and the procedure terminated.

At Oma Fertility, IUI costs $. This flat fee includes everything except the donor sperm (if necessary) and medications leading up to the procedure. 

Reasons to Choose IUI

IUI can help improve fertility odds and is often the first type of treatment recommended when there is no indication of blocked tubes or severe male factor infertility. Here are some common reasons why patients choose IUI:

  • Women looking for a less invasive treatment: One big difference between IUI and IVF is that IUI is much less invasive. An IUI can be performed in less than 20 minutes. 

  • Lesbian couples: Getting an IUI with donor sperm is an increasingly common opportunity for lesbian couples to achieve pregnancy. 

  • Couples with unexplained infertility: Unless a woman has blocked fallopian tubes or has a partner with severe male factor infertility, IUI is typically the best starting point to achieve pregnancy. 

What Is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

In vitro fertilization combines both the egg and the sperm outside of the uterus, to encourage the creation of a fully fertilized embryo. The embryo is then transferred into the womb to develop. This process has been used for decades and now has even higher success rates when combined with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). IVF with ICSI is the gold standard and raises success rates from 60% to 72%.

IVF treatment starts with birth control pills and hormonal injections. After the induction of ovulation, you'll come to the fertility clinic to have your eggs retrieved. Then, one sperm is injected into each egg during ICSI and the embryo is transferred into the uterus. You can also choose to freeze the leftover embryos to use at a later date. 

Oma offers IVF with ICSI for $13,000-$15,000 depending on your location and specific treatment plan. It includes everything except the medication prescriptions, embryo transfer, and anesthesia. 

Reasons to Start IVF

Most people start off with IUI and then move onto IVF if they've been unsuccessful for three or more rounds. Here are common reasons for choosing IVF, either as a first round of fertility treatment or following unsuccessful IUI treatments.

  • Multiple miscarriages: IVF can help eliminate genetic reasons for  miscarriage because our fertility specialists can screen embryos for genetic or chromosomal issues. 

  • Potential for genetic disorders: If either partner knows they carry a genetic mutation, IVF allows for genetic screening to select embryos without those genetic markers. 

  • Severe infertility issues: These could include things like PCOS, endometriosis, or low sperm count. 

Success Rates for IUI vs. IVF

Contributing Factor

IUI Success Rate

Under 35 years old

5% to 20% per cycle

With Clomid or Femara

10% per cycle

With injectables

15% per cycle

Contributing Factor

IVF Success Rate

Under 35 years old


35 to 37 years old


38 to 40 years old


40 years or older


Likelihood of Twins with IUI and IVF

When comparing artificial insemination vs. IVF, the first option carries the higher risk of having twins. Here's how the potential breaks down for each fertility treatment.

Medication Used With IUI

Chance of Multiples


1% to 13%


5% to 9%



Type of IVF

Chance of Multiples

Single embryo transfer


Double embryo transfer

35% to 55%

Cost of IUI vs. IVF

Oma Fertility provides patients with flat rates for all services so you know exactly what it will cost. IUI typically costs much less at any fertility clinic and the same holds true at Oma. IUI costs $2,000, compared to $13,000-$15,000 for IVF. However, IVF does come with significantly higher success rates. Talk to your Oma fertility specialist to determine which option is the best for your health. Also note that both treatment plans do not include cost of medications, which can be purchased separately at your pharmacy (and may be covered by your health insurance plan). Donor sperm is also a separate charge (if it's needed). 

There are also some charges for IVF that may apply. The $13,000-$15,000 fee doesn't include the embryo transfer process, just in case the embryo creation process is not successful. And if you want to store your embryos for more than one year, there is an additional $500 fee per year for storage.

What if IUI and IVF Don’t Work?

Even if you try IUI and IVF without achieving a successful pregnancy, there are other fertility treatments to explore. 

Donor egg IVF: Women without viable eggs can use a vetted egg donor to complete IVF treatment. The process is similar to regular IVF, except that a donor egg is used with sperm to create an embryo, rather than your own egg.

IVF with sperm donor: This option is a good one for a number of situations, including male infertility, single women, same sex couples, and transgender couples. Oma works with your choice of donor sperm banks. 

Gestational surrogacy options: Oma participates in the use of gestational carriers, designed to help individuals who cannot carry a baby themselves, including women without a  uterus, or with uterus  issues, complex medical problems that make pregnancy extremely dangerous  or same sex couples.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2023 12:00 AM