IVM: In Vitro Maturation

couple talking with fertility doctor

An increasing number of women are turning to a lesser-known alternative to in vitro fertilization (IVF) these days: in vitro maturation (IVM). Women are exploring this newer approach to fertility for many reasons, some of which are medical, others of which are purely financial or personal. Regardless of the reason for undergoing IVM, positive results have been produced. If you're looking for a fertility solution that is not IVF, IVM might be an option you should consider.

What Is IVM?

IVM is a fertility procedure that extracts immature eggs from a woman's ovaries. The eggs are then taken to a laboratory for the maturation process, which typically occurs in just a couple of days. Eggs that successfully achieve maturation in the lab are then injected via Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) with sperm. Eggs that are successfully fertilized through this process are grown for a short amount of time in the lab before being transplanted into the uterus.

woman getting ultrasound

Why Choose IVM?

There are many reasons why IVM might be an appropriate fertility option for you.

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS may put a woman at an increased risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The required medications in a typical round of IVF treatment may aggravate this risk, whereas IVM nearly eliminates this risk since the ovaries do not need to be stimulated as a part of the IVM procedure.

  • IVF hormones. There are many reasons why a woman might not want to be exposed to the level of hormones required by a full IVF procedure. For instance, women who have cancer may want to reduce their hormone exposure while also cutting down the time required for treatment initiation.

  • Expense. The numerous shots required as a part of the typical IVF procedure can be expensive. IVM does not require the high doses of hormones and medications that IVF does, which makes the process relatively more economical. A typical IVF cycle can cost between $10,000 - $30,000 whereas a typical IVM treatment is usually under $5,000.

  • Emotional toll. Many women feel emotionally depleted after a full course of IVF. Patients undergoing IVF may feel drained from the process because of the continuous injections and visits to the doctor required. IVM requires far fewer appointments and injections.

doctor looking at computer and talking with pregnant patient

What Are the Risks of IVM?

Like all invasive procedures, especially those related to fertility, there are some known risks associated with IVM. The technology is still developing and, before undergoing the IVM treatment, a woman should understand that:

  • The success rate of IVM is slightly lower than the success rate of IVF.

  • IVM is still an evolving procedure with limited data and experts in the field. There may still be risks associated with IVM yet to be discovered.

If you think IVM is a fertility treatment that you would like to learn more about, begin by talking to your doctor. Once you and your doctor fully evaluate your medical history and individual needs, you can explore the costs, advantages, and disadvantages of the IVM process. If you decide that IVM is right for you, you can then begin the process by making an appointment with an IVM specialist.