Reproductive Health Center, Tucson, Arizona

In Vitro Fertilization and Artificial Insemination, Are They Different?

Many people become confused by these two assisted reproduction procedures, and no wonder! They both kind of sound like artificial conception, right? Here is the difference:

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): This is where women are given fertility drugs to make more than one egg. The eggs (once ready) are then removed during a minor surgical procedure called follicular aspiration. These eggs are then fertilized in the laboratory with the male partner’s sperm. One or two of resulting embryos (after culture for 5 days) are then transferred into the woman’s uterus with a small flexible catheter. The remaining embryos (if there are more than were transferred) are then frozen and stored for future use. This procedure is used to treat a variety of fertility problems and is what is used by women with tubes that are blocked or were cut during tubal ligation surgery.

Artificial Insemination: Is a general term to describe a procedure where sperm from either a male partner or sperm donor are washed and placed into uterus of the female partner. This procedure is timed with ovulation and helps to get the sperm closer to the ovulating egg.  This procedure is also called Intrauterine Insemination or IUI. Typically, this procedure is used to treat male factor infertility, but is also used to increase the chances of conception in women who have ovulation problems. To have this procedure you must have open fallopian tubes or the sperm do not get to the egg.

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