Mini IVF is a procedure that many are hearing more about; however, most have no idea what it is or what it means. Many often wonder whether mini IVF is the same as traditional IVF or if there is a difference.
Ultimately, mini IVF, which is also called minimal stimulation IVF or micro IVF, is the same as traditional IVF when you consider the treatment procedures. Just as with IVF, mini IFV requires monitoring throughout the course of your cycle, retrieval of eggs, fertilization of the sperm and egg in the lab and transfer of the embryo.
The difference lies in the amount of medication that is used for the stimulation of the ovaries for egg production. Typical IVF seeks the production of more than one egg for retrieval while mini IVF uses a lower amount of medication or a weaker medication in order to generate just a few eggs.
Clomid is usually used with mini IVF as opposed to gonadotropins, such as Follistim and Gonal-F. In some cases, gonadotropins may still be used with mini IVF, except in lower doses, since only a couple of eggs are the sought outcome.
Often referred to as a natural cycle, some women are able to do mini IVF without any assistance from drugs that stimulate the ovaries. If a woman has any type of ovulation problems that are essentially preventing the ability to get pregnant, then this wouldn’t be an option. However, it could possibly be an option in cases of male infertility and/or blocked fallopian tubes.
During IVF or mini IVF, ovarian stimulation medications aren’t the only drugs that may need to be taken, as a GnRH antagonist may be needed as well. This will ensure that ovulation does not occur too early and your doctor is able to remove the eggs.
Mini IVF Pros
The primary benefit of mini IVF is the cost, as it around half (or less, in some cases) the cost of traditional IVF. Instead of $15,000 or so, you are looking at between somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000 for the mini IVF procedure.
Mini IVF is more expensive than an IUI treatment; however, there are fewer risks associated with mini IVF, such as the chance of having multiples. Only one embryo is transferred with mini IVF, whereas with IUI, the fertilization of eggs is out of your control. For some, having more than one baby may not be calculated as a risk, but for many, multiples are out of the question.
In addition, developing OHSS, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, is less likely with mini IVF.
Mini IVF Cons
As a general rule, mini IVF is cheaper; however, should the cycle be unsuccessful, costs could rise to be greater in the end.
With traditional IVF, there are generally embryos left available to freeze if one particular is unsuccessful to later be used during a process called frozen embryo transfer; however, with mini IVF, this is less likely.
In addition, you are more likely to have no eggs available for fertilization with mini IVF because not every produced egg survives. For example, with traditional INF, let’s say 10 eggs are retrieved. It’s a chance that only half of those actually become fertilized, and then only two or three of those may be healthy enough embryos for transfer. Starting with just a couple of eggs is a risk, as none of those eggs may become fertilized or become healthy embryos so that they can be transferred. This means that the entire cycle was a loss.
One more downside to mini IVF is that it is still a new process that has not undergone full studies. Therefore, the success rates of mini IVF are still unclear at this point. The largest study on the process resulted in a pregnancy about eight percent per individual cycle and 20 percent after three cycles.
The Verdict on Mini IVF
While it is likely to save money and lower the risk of multiples, success rates are not concrete.