Medical terminology can be confusing. There are several different acronyms you will hear when you enter the fertility world. Our friends over at Resolve have put together the ultimate list of commonly used fertility acronyms and abbreviations, I will link this list HERE. A few common ones you have probably already heard, specifically dealing with fertility treatments, are IUI and IVF. Today we are talking about those two acronyms, what they stand for, their differences, cost, and what’s involved in each procedure.
Let’s start with the less invasive option, IUI. IUI stands for INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION. This is an outpatient procedure. The physician inserts sperm from a male donor/partner into the female patient’s uterus. This allows the sperm to get a head start (as it is being inserted during the time of ovulation). This procedure is less invasive than IVF, therefore is a common option for new patients. Unfortunately, not all patients/couples are eligible for this procedure. It all depends on the Doctor’s recommendation after reviewing your health history, ovarian reserve, diagnosis, age, etc.
There is no recovery time needed after an IUI and less costly compared to IVF. The IUI itself takes about 10 minutes in office. Some women may experience spotting or slight cramping after the procedure. We recommend patients think as if they are pregnant. Therefore, they should continue to take their prenatal vitamin with Folic Acid 800mcg daily. They also need to avoid alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, and limit caffeine intake to 200mg daily (1-2 cups of coffee per day max). Tylenol 325mg or 500mg is ok to take during this time and during pregnancy.
The more invasive, costly, time consuming, but affective option is IVF. IVF stands for IN VITRO FERTILIZATION. IVF treatment starts with the stimulation and monitoring phase. This consists of self-administered injectable medication for 10-14 days. The patient will also be monitored frequently with blood work and ultrasounds during morning clinic. The stimulation and monitoring phase of IVF can be a very stressful time. There are a lot of things to remember, several early mornings and many injections. We encourage you to keep your schedules as light as possible so as not to add any additional stress during this time. Try not to plan trips, schedule extra projects, or commit to additional responsibilities. Your number one responsibility is to take care of yourself, try to relax, and follow your nurse’s instructions. All of this helps to ensure a smooth stimulation cycle.
Once the doctor determines your follicles are ready for egg retrieval, the procedure will take place. This involves a female patient’s eggs being surgically removed from the ovaries. We require patients to have a driver to and from the procedure. We also recommend getting plenty of rest (no working, driving, exercise), applying a heating pad, taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen for cramping, and hydrate post retrieval. Most women complain of cramping, bloating, and spotting post retrieval, but usually feel better by the next day. Most patients feel their very best with their period following retrieval which is expected about two weeks after egg retrieval.
The eggs are then transferred to a laboratory where they are fertilized by the male’s sperm, creating embryos! “In vitro” is Latin for “in glass,” and refers to the process of fertilizing an egg in a laboratory dish. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.
Success rates for either treatment can be different for each individual patient/couple. As always, with all fertility treatments, we recommend staying in touch with your nurse coordinator throughout the process. They are there to answer your questions and help you every step of the way!