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Been Unsuccessful in Getting Pregnant With IUI? Here’s Why IVF Might Be for You


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Fertility treatments are gaining a global prevalence, thanks to rapid technological development that has refined their procedure, generated higher success rate, and elevated chances of conception of a biological child. The procedures are also gaining massive prevalence among LGBTQIA+ individuals who want to conceive a child with their partner.

However, not every fertility treatment reaps the expected results after the procedure. In some cases, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), despite its high success rate, might not work out for some people. There are several factors involved that could influence the outcome drastically.

If you have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant with IUI, the next step in the fertility journey is to consider in-vitro fertilization (IVF). We will explain the differences, success rate, and more on the procedures in this article.

IUI vs. IVF – What do they Mean?

Before we delve into the reasons why IUI treatment was unsuccessful and how IVF could be a redeeming choice, let us clarify our basics first.

That includes understanding what these procedures mean.

IUI or Intrauterine Insemination is a fertility treatment where the washed and treated sperm from the male partner (or donor) is directly placed inside the recipient’s uterus using a speculum. It is a form of timed artificial insemination where the specialists will time the female patient’s ovulation to enhance the chances of conception.

IVF or In-vitro Fertilization is a type of assisted reproductive technology wherein the eggs from the mature follicles of the female patient are retrieved and the same are fertilized with the sperm from the male partner (or donor) in a petri dish in a lab under a controlled environment. The fertilized eggs are then transferred into the uterus of the patient where it implants and grows into a fetus gradually.

IUI is a comparably cheaper and non-invasive procedure as opposed to IVF. Undergoing an IUI cycle typically has a success rate of up to 5-15%, which is comparably lesser than IVF, which has a success rate of up to 55%.

The success rate of IUI is dependent on several factors, including the age, the specialists conducting the procedure, the viability of the sperm, reproductive health, the environment of the female patient, etc.

What Leads to IUI Failure?

Before you proceed to an IVF treatment, knowing what led to the failure of a potential IUI pregnancy is important. Your specialist will typically assess the causes of failure before they suggest further treatments.

Some of the major factors that determine the success rate of an IUI procedure include:

  • Age of the female patient
  • Sperm quality and parameters of the male partner
  • Available ovarian reserve
  • History of drug use
  • Unidentified fertility issues

Your fertility specialist will prioritize these factors and even discuss them in detail with you about the consequences and the possible results of the procedure.

Despite the thorough alignment of the steps in the procedure, some of the potent causes of IUI Failures are:

Poor egg quality – eggs with chromosomal abnormalities or poor quality of the ovarian reserve lead to a lack of fertilization. Sometimes, despite successful fertilization, the cells don’t divide to form a viable embryo, leading to the IUI failure.

Age – as the age progresses, the success rate of IUI reduces exponentially. The chances of success typically reduce up to 20% for women above the age of 35.

Sperm parameters – lack of optimal sperm motility is one of the primary reasons behind IUI failure.

Timing – if your fertility specialist fails to time the ovulation and doesn’t transfer the sperm in the fertile window, the chances of success are quite low.

Endometrial lining – reproductive health and anatomy of the female patient are crucial. If the endometrial lining isn’t inviting and optimal, the fertilized embryo won’t implant, leading to failure.

Ovulation issues – lack of ovulation or irregular ovulation also leads to IUI failure.

Hormonal imbalance – lack of optimal progesterone levels in the female can lead to risks of IUI failure in women.

If the first cycle of IUI fails, your fertility specialist will assess what’s causing the issue before suggesting IVF or other types of fertility treatments.

Why IVF is a Considerably Better Option after IUI Failure?

Experiencing reproductive challenges can be physically and mentally taxing. In most cases, doctors prefer IVF as a better next step due to its potent benefits.

Experts and fertility specialists believe that a woman who is physically healthy and is under 30 years have a 50% chance of success in the first IVF cycle. IUI is often considered an ideal route of fertility treatment for couples who are experiencing issues related to:

However, IUI might not be the most favorable option for every couple. Following a failed IUI treatment, IVF could be a superior option for couples who are experiencing any of the following issues:

  • Severe male infertility
  • Blockages in the fallopian tubes
  • History of genetic disorders
  • Reduced ovarian reserve
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Advanced age (over 35)

If you are at risk of passing on any genetic disorder to your baby, IVF is a better and safer option since it allows for pre-implantation genetic testing. This allows couples to identify any potential genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo before it is implanted into the uterus of the female patient.

With IVF, the chances of successful fertilization and implantation are higher since multiple eggs are retrieved to be fertilized in-vitro. Doing so means that even if one egg and sperm don’t fertilizer, there are a few other backup options to look into.

Is IVF a More Cost-Effective Procedure?

Most couples or individuals who have seen successful results from IUI on the first try don’t have to worry about comparing the costs.

When it comes to comparing the costs involved in an “individual: cycle”, the cost of IUI is considerably lower than IVF. However, you need to understand that most people struggling with infertility don’t notice success in the first round of IUI.

So, undergoing multiple IUI procedures can ramp up the costs quite quickly. On the flipside, IVF cycles are no doubt expensive but they also have a higher success rate per cycle.

This means that undergoing one “successful” IVF cycle might be more cost-effective as opposed to undergoing multiple “unsuccessful” IUI cycles.

However, it is crucial to sit down and discuss the pros and cons of IVF since having clear and transparent communication is necessary to prepare one’s self mentally and physically for what’s to come.


Can you start IVF right after a failed IUI?

Most patients prefer undergoing at least two to three IUI attempts before considering switching to IVF. The duration or point  of start of an IVF treatment depends on what the doctor suggests and the physical and mental well-being of the patient.

Why did I not get pregnant with IUI?

The IUI failure is dependent on several factors, including issues with female reproductive anatomy, age, endometriosis, poor egg quality, inexperienced doctors, etc.

Is IVF more successful than IUI?

Yes, studies and live examples depict that the success rate of IVF is higher than IUI by around 5-10% per cycle.


Fertility treatments bring on a tumultuous journey for the people undergoing it. If your IUI success rate is low, sit down with your fertility specialist and look for a more proactive alternative like IVF. However, remember that IVF involves an elevated cost, and can be more taxing on a woman’s physical health. Discussing all the choices and options in detail about the treatment is thus crucial to ensure a heightened success rate and the joy of becoming future parents. 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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