When I decided to opt for assisted reproduction, my first thought was IUI. I felt that, regardless of my hormonal issues, I had decent ovulatory function, and since my tubal blockage was the main problem, there was no need pulling out the big guns for IVF. Besides it was much cheaper, and far more realistic for me at the time. So when I marched to the clinic for my first appointment, I went to discuss IUI. The doctor I met was quite patient, and took his time to explain why, bearing in mind my medical history, IUI might just end up being a waste of money. My 1-tube situation that I thought wasn’t enough reason for IVF was the reason why the doctor thought IUI might not work for me. According to him, if regular sex made you scale 3 hurdles, IUI would improve that number by just 1 or 2. So, in effect, I would have almost the same odds. By the time I walked out of the clinic, I was Team #IVF.
Over the next few days, I thought about my online friends who had opted for IUI, and realised how low their success rates were. Most of them had to try as many as 9 times before they were successful. Some not even then. Of course there were the few who were successful the 1st or 2nd time around, but this number was very small compared to those that were not. Upon carrying out further research, I found out that the average success rate for IUI hovers around 5 to 15% with each cycle. This was even lower than IVF’s 25%.
What was really the point of IUI, I asked myself? When I read about the process, I realised that it was essentially a more scientific approach to sex, with every other thing being the same, except for the deeper access to the uterus and, of course, minus the pleasure!! Yes, there was the benefit of having the sperm “washed” beforehand, but apart from this, it was basically sex, turkey baster style.
But even with the fairly basic procedure (compared to IVF), the build up was pretty much the same. In most cases, the ovaries would still need to be stimulated, and the couple would still require a series of clinic visits, ultrasound monitoring, blood tests, etc., just like an IVF cycle. Using an analogy, its the same as a light weight boxer, training with almost the same intensity as a heavy weight boxer. The thing is, the heavy weight guy is more likely to win a big ticket fight, whilst you barely manage to sell out local venues.
It suddenly dawned on me that even though IUI appears so much cheaper than IVF, in actual fact you end up spending at least as much, best case. The reality is that, by the time you have had 7 failed IUI cycles, you are so out-of-pocket that you can’t even afford the IVF cycle you need. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Some people’s bodies are seemingly made for IUI. One of my closest friends has had 3 successful pregnancies, all from IUI. But she is one of the lucky ones.
The truth of the matter is that most women will waste a lot of cycles on this procedure, with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Whenever anyone asks for my opinion, I am always quick to discourage people from opting for IUI. Whether you are 21 or 45, I just don’t see the need wasting your time. With every failed cycle of IUI, you sacrifice 4 weeks of your life you will never get back. You put your body through a lot, suffer the same nerve wracking 2-week wait, only for you to get a BFN, staring you right in the face. Nah, I don’t think so. As long as you have decided that assisted reproduction is for you, just go for IVF. I’m just saying…
In conclusion, go big…or just go home.
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