3 methods of assisted fertilisation

Assisted fertilisation or ART (assisted reproductive technology) used to be known as artificial insemination. We prefer the notion that we assist with fertilisation, so this is the term we normally use. More information on the methods used in assisted fertilisation is provided here.

IUI – intrauterine insemination

IUI is the simplest form of assisted fertilisation and is therefore the first method we try when couples fail to achieve pregnancy naturally. Insemination is also the natural choice for single women or lesbian couples.

IUI or insemination is comparable with a gynaecological examination. At Vitanova, nurses or midwives perform the insemination procedure. The midwife passes a very thin catheter up into the cervix through the vagina. This catheter is connected to a syringe containing the purified semen. The midwife injects the sperm cells into the uterus, and from there they make their own way to the egg. Insemination is possible using either the partner’s sperm or donor sperm. Find out more about donor sperm.

IUI can be performed as part of a natural cycle or in a cycle in which the woman undergoes mild hormonal stimulation, ensuring that an egg develops. For IUI, the chance of pregnancy is somewhat lower than with IVF. We therefore recommend proceeding with IVF after three or four attempts with IUI.

IVF – in vitro fertilisation

Like insemination, IVF treatment – often known as in vitro fertilisation – is a form of assisted fertilisation. With IVF, eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised in a laboratory using either the partner’s sperm or donor sperm. The fertilised eggs – the embryos – are then returned to the woman’s uterus.

IVF with mild stimulation

IVF can be performed in various ways. The most widely known method involves hormonal stimulation in the woman, resulting in a larger than normal number of eggs. This hormonal stimulation involves injections being administered on certain days of the cycle. At Vitanova, we almost always use this method, which is known as mild IVF or brief stimulation. With mild IVF, hormonal stimulation takes place during the woman’s natural cycle. This method involves fewer hormones than with conventional, long stimulation IVF. The woman experiences fewer psychological effects from the hormones compared with the effects of conventional, long stimulation.

Natural cycle IVF without stimulation

Another method involves performing IVF in a natural cycle without hormonal stimulation. In this case only one or two eggs develop; the usual number. This method can be used by women who have very few eggs in their ovaries and where we do not want her to develop more than one or two eggs at a time.

Natural cycle IVF with very mild stimulation – modified natural cycle IVF

The third option is to give the woman very mild hormonal stimulation as known from IUI. This is known as modified natural cycle IVF. The woman develops one or two embryos. This method can also be used in women with low egg reserves.


The final type of IVF treatment is known as ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or microinsemination. The sperm cells find their own way to the egg with normal fertilisation or fertilisation in a laboratory. However, if the man is producing very low-quality sperm containing only a few sperm cells, we can help the sperm cell to enter the egg by using ICSI. ICSI is performed under a microscope. The embryologist selects a sperm cell with a normal appearance and inserts it into the egg using a very thin glass pipette.

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