IUI success rates are just OK, and the reported success rates vary widely between studies. Some studies show only an 8% success rate (when using fertility drugs plus IUI), while others put the success rate closer to 20%.
For IUI cycles without fertility drugs, success rates are very low -- just 4% of women got pregnant, in one study. IUI with Clomid is less successful than IUI with gonadotropins (like Gonal-F and Follistim.)
Age plays a big part in IUI success. In a study of IUI success for women over age 40, the findings showed a very low pregnancy rate, at just 2% (and the pregnancies only happened in the first IUI cycle tried).
The study recommended that if IUI is used in a woman over 40, that only one cycle should be attempted. If that cycle fails, then moving onto IVF would be recommended. Though with such a low success rate, it's probably best to move straight to IVF in most cases.
For women under age 40, the recommendation is three cycles of IUI, before moving onto IVF treatment. One study found that IUI success rates were 16.4% per cycle for the first three tries, or 39.2% if looking at all three trials together. However, for IUI treatments cycles 4 through 6, the success rate dropped significantly to only 5.6%. This steep drop after three unsuccessful tries at IUI is why moving onto IVF is recommended at this stage.
IUI has better success rates for mild to moderate male infertility than severe male infertility. For severe male infertility, IVF treatment may be a better choice. If a sperm donor is being used, then IUI would be good choice, especially if there are mild or no female infertility factors.
IUI treatment is also a good choice if hostile cervical mucus is the cause of infertility. (Of course, other factors should also be taken into account, like male infertility and the woman's age.)
It's true that IUI is less expensive than IVF, and its lower cost is part of what makes IUI attractive. However, when you consider your chances for success, it may be a better financial choice to go straight to IVF in certain situations. That's because if one IUI cycle costs $3,000 (including all medications and screening costs), and you try it three times unsuccessfully, you've spent $9,000 already. Instead, for $12,000 -- just $3,000 more-- you could have tried one cycle of IVF and had a better statistical chance for success.
- What is IUI?
- What Are Gonadotropins?
- IVF Procedures, Risks, Costs, and Success Rates
- Understanding Treatment of Infertility
- How to Have a Baby When You've Been Trying for Awhile
- What to Expect During Fertility Testing
- How to Cope When Trying to Conceive Overwhelms You
- Symptoms and Risk Factors of Infertility
- Causes of Infertility
- A Complete Guide to Baby Making Sex
- Take a Fertility Quiz
Aboulghar M, Mansour R, Serour G, Abdrazek A, Amin Y, Rhodes C. Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and intrauterine insemination for treatment of unexplained infertility should be limited to a maximum of three trials. Fertility and Sterility. 2001 Jan;75(1):88-91.
Cohlen BJ, Vandekerckhove P, te Velde ER, Habbema JD. Timed intercourse versus intra-uterine insemination with or without ovarian hyperstimulation for subfertility in men. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2000;(2):CD000360.
Harris ID, Missmer SA, Hornstein MD. Poor success of gonadotropin-induced controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and intrauterine insemination for older women. Fertility and Sterility. 2009 Apr 24. [Epub ahead of print].
Infertility in Women. A.D.A.M. Healthcare Center. Accessed February 3, 2008. http://adam.about.net/reports/000022_7.htm