Choosing Between IVF And IUI

One low-tech treatment option that is much less expensive than in vitro fertilization (IVF), seems to be worth looking into for women in the early part of their 40's who wish to have a baby. That option would be intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Impressive Difference

Women in their 40's battling infertility are often advised by their physicians that IVF affords them their best possibility for using their own eggs to get pregnant. But researchers at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, say that IUI is often just as effective for women in this age group. Besides, while IVF costs can run anywhere from $8,000-$15,000 per cycle, IUI costs only $300-$3,000. That's quite an impressive difference.

In IVF, a woman's eggs are removed in a surgical procedure, after the patient has been given drugs to trigger the production of a multiplicity of eggs. After the eggs are harvested, they are taken to a laboratory where they will be put together with sperm. Next comes the waiting period in which it is hoped that fertilization will take place. By contrast, in IUI, sperm are injected straight into the woman's uterus via a flexible, very thin tube.

Success Rates

The Canadian research team analyzed success and failure rates for more than 1,100 IUI procedures. The researchers discovered that for each IUI procedure given to women aged 40-42, the conception and delivery rate came in at 9.8% in comparison to 12.9% for women no matter their age at the time of the procedure. The women in their 40's did have a much higher rate for miscarriage at 52% compared with 35% for women aged 30-35. These findings appeared in Fertility and Sterility.

Meantime, the president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Dr. Steven J. Ory says that IVF is successful for women in their early 40's 15% of the time. Ory says that many couples feel that the difference in success rates isn't significant enough to lend justification for choosing IVF over IUI. Also, judging by these statistics, neither IVF nor IUI is particularly effective after the age of 40. The Margate, Florida practitioner states that barring the use of donor eggs, a woman's chances for conception are very low no matter what they do.

Atlanta, Georgia fertility specialist, E. Scott Sills is not convinced that doctors are telling women to steer clear of IUI and use the more hi-tech, more expensive IVF. But he also doesn't believe that women would choose a fertility treatment with a success rate of under 10% just because it's less costly.

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