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3 May 2023

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Artificial insemination vs IVF and ICSI

Dr Ujvala Rao

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Dr Ujvala Rao

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What’s the difference between artificial insemination, IVF and ICSI? And what is ovulation induction? Let us explain.

Sometimes we need a little help to fall pregnant. Some of the most common fertility treatments are artificial insemination, IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), but even if you’ve already done a ton of research, you might be feeling confused about which is which and what does what. And how does ovulation induction fit into the picture?

To help prepare you for your journey to parenthood, it’s worth understanding what these treatments do and how they could potentially help make your baby dreams come true.

Ovulation induction

This is a form of medication that brings on ovulation, encouraging eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released. It’s designed to improve your chances of conceiving – both naturally and through artificial insemination. Ovulation induction can be used for women who are producing low levels of hormones for ovulation or are not ovulating at all (but have healthy fallopian tubes and a male partner with a healthy semen analysis).

Artificial insemination

Also known as IUI (intrauterine insemination), artificial insemination is where sperm is inserted into the uterus close to the time of ovulation, to enhance the chances of pregnancy. It’s one of the simpler, less invasive forms of fertility treatment, and is often used when there’s a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, what’s known as hostile cervical mucus or minor sperm abnormalities. It’s also used when the male’s sperm has been frozen previously (due to cancer treatment, for example). In the case of single women or same-sex couples, artificial insemination can also be used with donor sperm.


This is probably the most well-known fertility procedure, but that doesn’t mean we all necessarily have a good understanding of what it involves. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is where a woman’s ovaries are stimulated for around two weeks to create more eggs, which are then surgically removed. In a laboratory, those eggs are joined with sperm, and the fertilised egg (also known as an embryo) grows in a protected environment before being transferred into the woman’s uterus later.


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure done as part of IVF, but only in certain cases. It involves a single sperm being injected into each egg to assist fertilisation, using very fine micro-manipulation equipment. It can be recommended when there’s been a diagnosis of male fertility issues, such as low sperm count or motility, anti-sperm antibodies or after a vasectomy. It can also be used when poor (or no) fertilisation has occurred during standard IVF.

The takeaway: Sometimes it takes a village to start a family

Trying for a baby can be complicated. At IVFAustralia, your doctor, counsellor, nurses, care team and laboratory team work together to give you the best possible chance of success. We set the benchmark in laboratory standards and world-first fertility science, continually investing in research and innovation. As pioneers in the development of artificial intelligence embryo selection, we take pride in being a leader in IVF progress.

If you’re concerned about your fertility and want to explore your options, give us a call on 1800 111 483 or fill out the form below to make an appointment.

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