What is IVF, ICSI & IUI? And Which is the Best Option?

22nd September 2019 in Treatments

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

A couple discussing the difference between IVF, IUI, and ICSI

IVF, ICSI and IUI are the most common ways we can help you have a baby, but they’re very different fertility treatments, and we’re often asked by patients which is best.

Here are the main differences between IVF, ICSI and IUI, and when each would generally be recommended. Remember that everyone’s fertility journey is different, and what may be advised for one person may not be right for you:

IVF Explained: What is IVF?

IVF – In-Vitro Fertilisation - involves the use of fertility drugs to gently stimulate your ovaries to produce quality mature eggs, which are retrieved and then fertilised in our laboratory with sperm from either your partner or a donor. Sperm and eggs are placed together in a special dish and eggs monitored for signs of fertilisation.

The best quality resulting embryo is selected for transfer, where it’s placed into your uterus to implant and grow for pregnancy.

Advantages of IVF

IVF allows us to maximise the chance of fertilisation by placing eggs with sperm. We can choose the embryo with the highest potential for pregnancy thanks to our advanced embryo selection techniques, which include time-lapse monitoring and Preimplantation Genetic Screening. If you have more than one good embryo from your cycle, you can freeze the remainder to use in future treatment cycles.

Why IVF may be advised

IVF is designed to overcome issues that prevent sperm from fertilising an egg in the body, such as fallopian tube damage or blockages. It may also be advised in some cases of unexplained infertility, or in mild cases of male infertility.

ICSI Explained: What is ICSI?

ICSI means Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, and it’s a refinement of the IVF technique. 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 helps you get pregnant when your partner has sperm problems. Because the sperm is injected it bypasses the other stages of early fertilisation. . Only the best quality sperm is used for fertilisation, as identified by one of our Embryologists.

Why ICSI may be advised

ICSI is a treatment designed to overcome male fertility issues, such as low sperm count or poor sperm mobility, which prevents sperm from fertilising the egg naturally. It’s also used for surgically-retrieved sperm, or for men whose sperm has high levels of DNA damage. If sperm issues aren’t the cause of your fertility problems, IVF would normally be recommended instead.

IUI Explained: What is IUI?

IUI is short for Intrauterine Insemination. It involves inserting your partner’s sperm – or donor sperm – into your uterus at the time you are ovulating, in the hope the egg is fertilised for pregnancy.

Advantages of IUI

IUI can be carried out 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

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

For IUI to work, fallopian tubes must be clear, there must be enough healthy sperm and a mature egg to fertilise. If you have irregular ovulation, we can use fertility drugs in combination with IUI. Otherwise, IVF may be advised instead.

IVF, ICSI or IUI: Which is best?

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

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

You may be given the option to try IUI, or you may be recommended to go straight to IVF or ICSI, if your partner’s semen analysis reveals a sperm disorder. Our focus is achieving your pregnancy, in the most effective way possible.

All treatment decisions will 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.

Book private IVF, ICSI or IUI treatment in Cheshire

We have no waiting list for private IVF, ICSI or IUI with partner or UK donor sperm at our Cheshire fertility clinic. Speak to our Patient Advisors to arrange your fertility consultation on 0161 300 2737 or self-refer here, you don’t need a GP referral.


Last updated: 24th September 2019