The technology of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is recognized as an effective fertility method, the woman has to undergo 2 weeks of injections to stimulate egg production prior to retrieval.
Compared to IVF, “IVM” or “In Vitro Maturation” offers an alternative to hormone injections and therefore poses less risk for the mother-to-be. In IVM, immature eggs, or oocytes, are retrieved from the ovary, then matured in the laboratory before being fertilized and replaced to the womb, after which a pregnancy examination can later be performed.
IVM technology resembles nature with maximum safety while requiring less time because no medication or hormone stimulation is required; therefore, less expensive than traditional IVF treatment. However this process is very time-consuming and uncomfortable, a potentially fatal side-effect of these injections is a condition known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Because IVF requires daily injection of drug (called gonadotropins) before the injection to the ovary, women are prone to OHSS as well as having to sniff an ovary suppressing drug on regular basis. OHSS, with an incidence of up to 6% in high-risk patients undergoing IVF treatments, can be fatal. Hence, with the cost of drugs, making IVM more accessible and become first choice to women who want infertility treatment. Conclusively, IVM is an alternate to IVF for women who are under 38 years of age.
Steps of IVM treatment:
- Before the egg collection, a vaginal ultrasound scan must be observed between day 1-5 of the cycle in order to do the Antral Follicle Count and to rule-out the presence of any cysts that may interfere with the collection procedure. A progestagen tables may be given to indue menstrual bleed.
- Immature eggs are retrieved from woman’s ovary following suggestion from an ultrasound scan. After the retrieving process, women are required to starting taking the oestrogen hormone tablets in order to thicken the lining of the womb.
- Retrieved eggs are matured in the laboratory for 24-48 hours.
- The oocytes that have successfully matured are stripped off their surroundings and injected with sperm (intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI). If oocytes are found at the collection process, step 3 can be skipped.
- Embryos are transferred to the mother’s womb taking place three or four days after the oocyte collection process, however, how fast of the transfer depends on the maturation rate of oocytes and the division of the embryos.
IVM has a success rate up to 25-30% as compared to IVF 40%. The advantage of this method, however, is its similarity to natural methods along with a high level of safety and it is also a cheaper alternative. If one IVM procedure is unsuccessful in producing conception and pregnancy, another can be performed within a short period of time. Currently 400 babies have been born worldwide using the IVM method as this technique is quite new. One major disadvantage of IVM is that this method is very new. This means it’s still experimental and doctors don’t really don’t know what the long term effects will be of using immature eggs and of maturing them outside of the human body. Researchers say, however, that they don’t think there is anything dangerous about the treatment. As it looks today, most likely IVM will replace the IVF methods in the near future.