Artificial Insemination Increasingly Second Choice

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Spurred by recent research, California fertility specialists are edging away from a traditional and well-known infertility treatment -- artificial insemination -- saying newer and improving in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology tends to cost less and work far better in the long run, ultimately saving patients time, money and heartache.

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Known as "intrauterine insemination" (IUI), artificial insemination has been popular for decades, chiefly because it's a simple procedure with few side effects. One IUI also costs far less than a single round of IVF. However, by skipping preliminary steps in treatment and going straight to IVF, studies conducted at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center showed that patients who used so-called "fast track IVF" got pregnant three months faster on average, and spent $10,000 less than those who used conventional protocols.

"This research is another marker in a course change from the tradition that treatment begins with artificial insemination combined with hormone treatment," said RSC reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Mary Hinckley. "In many cases, starting with IVF means less emotional and financial drain on patients who can expect higher pregnancy success rates."

Though cheaper than IVF, IUI offers only a 9-to-15 percent success rate. IVF offered a national average pregnancy rate of 34 percent in 2005, according to the CDC. RSC's pregnancy rate topped the national average with 44 percent in 2007. IVF also reduces chances of multiple births because physicians can transfer just one embryo to the uterus. IUI medication causes many eggs to develop, increasing the chances of multiples births, which pose greater health risks to mother and infants.

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