IVM vs IVF
In vitro fertilization is a complex process where mature eggs are extracted from a woman’s ovaries. From there, sperm is combined with the eggs at a lab or clinic to encourage fertilization. The newly formed embryo is then implanted into the uterus to start a pregnancy. Any remaining embryos are frozen for other cycles, if necessary. In vitro maturation takes the process a step further by extracting immature eggs. The eggs are both matured and fertilized out of the body. This means that clinics can freeze immature eggs for future use.
Effective but not efficient…until now
Studies on IVM have been around since the 1960s, with the first IVM birth reported around the mid-1990s. However, doctors and clinics then considered the process inefficient and unreliable. Now, technology has allowed some clinics to provide IVM with increased speed and accuracy. And there are some distinct advantages when compared to IVF.
IVM means a better patient experience
So what does IVM mean for women? The elimination of excessive hormones. Women undergoing IVF require several hormone injections. Injections help doctors stimulate ovulation to gather as many mature oocytes as possible. With IVM, doctors can extract eggs with just a few hormone treatments. In fact, true IVM requires no hormones. However, there will be a smaller yield of oocytes for the clinic to work with. Hormone injections are the most challenging and painful part of IVF. IVM promotes a smoother patient experience.
A victory for PCOS women
IVM is specifically helpful for women with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a common reproductive disorder that causes cysts, missed periods, and increased male hormones. The condition can also impair reproduction. Injecting hormones in women with PCOS can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS. OHSS causes the ovaries to swell and is painful. The condition also causes several health complications, including the inability to carry a full-term pregnancy. IVF may cause difficulties in this situation, while IVM is a viable alternative.
Savings all around
IVF is an intense and lengthy procedure. The process may not be feasible for some women who are unable to wait for eggs to mature. A typical example is cancer patients who need to start treatment. IVM saves time through the immediate extraction of immature eggs. IVF also tends to be a costly procedure with doctor’s visits and hormone treatments. Fewer hormone treatments mean cost-savings for patients.
Is it the end of IVF?
IVM will not replace IVF. Doctors, clinics, and embryologists will use the procedure alongside IVF. IVM is also still in the beginner stages of being widely used by clinics. In essence, IVM has the makings of being a cost-effective, safe alternative. However, there are some mixed results on the success rate of IVM versus IVF. With time, IVM will be widely used and more successful. Infertile persons, especially women with PCOS and other complications, should speak with a doctor about IVM.