IVF vs. IVM – What’s The Difference?

Most people are familiar with in vitro fertilization (IVF), but fewer know about in vitro maturation (IVM), a fertility procedure in which immature eggs are collected in the ovaries and matured in the laboratory before they are fertilized in a procedure similar to traditional IVF. Below, we will take a look at the difference between IVF vs. IVM, as well as when IVM might be the right choice.

IVF vs. IVM

IVF is traditionally performed with eggs that were matured in the ovary, not in the laboratory. For women who do not ovulate regularly, injectable gonadotropins or other fertility medications are often used to stimulate egg maturation. This also allows for the collection of a larger number of mature eggs, so that the best embryos can be selected for transfer.

The fertility hormones used in IVF are very expensive, and represent a financial hurdle for many patients. In addition, injectable gonadotropins have the potential to cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is potentially life-threatening.

Recent improvements in technology and techniques have made it possible to perform IVF with immature eggs collected from the ovaries, which are then matured in the laboratory – a process known as in vitro maturation (IVM).

Relatively good success rates are now possible. However, when considering IVF vs. IVM, it is important to understand that the success rates of IVM are lower than those from traditional, stimulated IVF cycles. The rates of pregnancy are very low for women over 35. Therefore, the procedure should only be performed on women who have enough egg reserves to make the procedure feasible, and who are not good candidates for a stimulated cycle due to health reasons, budgetary concerns, or both.

How IVM Works

On day 3-5 of the menstrual cycle, a transvaginal ultrasound is performed to confirm the presence of egg-containing follicles in the ovaries. Then, an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is administered. 36 hours later, immature eggs can be retrieved using a minimally invasive procedure similar to that used to collect mature eggs in an IVF cycle.

The immature eggs are placed in a petri dish that contains a special media to help the eggs mature. Eggs matured with IVM cannot be cultured with sperm, as in a typical IVF cycle; instead, each individual egg is injected with sperm in a fertilization technique known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

The embryos are cultured for several more days, so that the embryos can develop enough to be transferred. This is the same technique used in traditional IVF. During this time, the woman receives estrogen and progesterone injections to prepare the uterus to receive the embryos. The best embryos are selected in the preimplantation phase to ensure the best chances of pregnancy. Alternatively, embryos can be frozen for later use.

Finally, the embryo transfer is performed. If the embryo implants in the uterine lining, pregnancy occurs. Pregnancy can be confirmed within 1-2 weeks.

Candidates for IVM

The best candidates for IVM meet the following criteria:

  • Under the age of 35 (preferable under the age of 30)
  • Have a large number of follicles per ovary (ideally >15), as seen with a vaginal ultrasound
  • Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level in the upper half for the woman’s age group
  • Have gone through a stimulation IVF cycle in the past and produced a large number of eggs during that cycle
  • At a healthy weight (not obese)

Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about treatment for your infertility. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.

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