Thursday, January 29, 2009

In Vitro Maturation - Less riskly & expensive than IVF?

It's called In Vitro Maturation (IVM), but I had certainly never heard of it until just the other day. The CBS Early Show ran a story on this very topic; thanks to my Mom for bringing it to my attention. Apparently about 400 babies have been born thus far worldwide thanks to this treatment, but only one baby has resulted from In Vitro Maturation in the U.S. just last year.

What makes IVM so different from IVF
For one, they do not give you tons of injectable fertility meds to stimulate your ovaries in order to produce eggs. Instead, they only give you an HCG shot around days 3-5, retrieve the eggs and then they fully mature them in a dish filled with special media. From there the cycle mimics a traditional IVF cycle in that you take hormones to prepare your uterine lining and then the transfer is done.

Women Under 30-35 and with PCOS Good Candidates
In short, the article states IVM is safter for womem with polycistic-like ovaries (PCOS) and people who are sensitive to fertility drugs, and therefore at higher risk for ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. According to Dr. Tim Child, a fertility specialist at John Radcliffe Hospital, "Women who are 35 or less who have a good number of resting follicles in their ovaries, and there's about a 40-45 percent chance of pregnancy per IVM cycle." As a note, that makes it about half as effective as IVF (more like what you'd expect from an IUI cycle).

Cheaper & Less Risky?
In Vitro Maturation is touted as being "cheaper, easier on a woman's body and quicker". The RE that is currently treating the women who's pregnant here in the U.S. is Dr. Randy Morris with IVF 1 in the Chicago, IL area. His website says "The best candidates for IVM (in vitro maturation) are young women with large numbers of egg containing follicles or women who have attempted stimulated in-vitro fertilization and had production of a large number of eggs. Ideally, women under the age of 30 or 35 would be expected to have the greatest likelihood for having many eggs." He also mentions that overweight women would not be good candidates, because you can't see the small ovaries on an ultrasound, making it harder and more fisky to remove eggs.

For more information on how the procedure is done, visit Dr. Morris' website. Also, here is a recent article on the first women in the U.S. to have this procedure done by Dr. Morris.

What does this mean for us?
Well, given that we fit the profile to the T (at least at this point we seem to) and that Chicago isn't that far from home, we'd be silly not to call them and check into it. I can say that I feel really comfortable with Dr. Alhering currently and like the fact that IVF success rates are generally double that (80%) of IVM. However, if IVM is safer and considerably cheaper (like if it was the cost of an IUI), we might be able to afford to do several treatments for what it would cost us to do just one IVF. I have to admit I'm still a little weirded out that they are maturing your eggs for you... a extremely important part of the process, but then again, in ART there are a lot of things done outside the body and it still results in a perfectly healthy child.

I suppose we'll be calling them in the next few weeks and I'll make sure to update and let everyone know our findings!

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