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When the normal reproduction process fails, couples seek refuge in assisted reproduction technology (ART). One of the most common ART is IVF.

IVF or in vitro fertilization (in glass fertilization) is a process where medicines and surgical procedures are combined to help the sperm fertilize the egg outside the body and then re-implant the fertilized egg back in the uterus.

IVF is suggested for:
  • Women aged more than 35 years
  • Women with damaged fallopian tubes
  • Women having ovulation disorders like uterine fibroids or premature ovarian failure
  • Women with endometriosis
  • Women having recurrent miscarriages
  • Male Factor Infertility
  • Idiopathic or unexplained infertility
A couple cannot decide on having an IVF procedure. They have to undergo a basic evaluation to determine eligibility.

If eligible, the physician selects a treatment plan. The assigned treatment protocol takes into consideration the unique circumstances and the method that has the best outcome.

Conventional IVF Process

A conventional IVF process undergoes the following procedure

Ovarian stimulation

The woman is given injections for 10 to 12 days to stimulate the ovaries for producing multiple eggs.

Egg retrieval

When it's determined that the eggs have matured and are ready, an ultrasound-guided procedure to retrieve the egg is undertaken by the physician.

Sperm collection

Corresponding to the egg retrieval, the male partner collects a fresh sperm sample that undergoes analysis and preparation for insemination.

Fertilization

Once the analysis and preparation of the eggs and sperm are completed, the eggs are inseminated and about 16-18 hours later, fertilization is determined. There are two different types of insemination:
  • Conventional insemination
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Embryo culture

Once fertilization is determined, the embryos are put in special media to allow for optimal growth.

Embryo transfer

Depending on the number and quality of embryos, 1-3 embryos are transferred to uterus a few days after egg retrieval (3-5).

Embryo cryopreservation

If any embryos of acceptable quality are left after the transfer, the couple is given the option of freezing and storing it for future use.

Minimal Stimulation IVF

Advancements in technology have not left IVF treatment untouched.

With advancements in technology, new, much better, and more holistic IVF protocols are being developed to treating the infertility process. One of the alternatives is Minimal Stimulation IVF.

Minimal Stimulation IVF (mini-IVF) uses smaller medication doses for ovary stimulation to develop high-quality eggs.
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Unlike conventional IVF, mini-IVF aims at producing reduced but superior quality eggs. As opposed to 40 to 60 injections given in traditional IVF, mini-IVF uses either no injections or only 3 to 4 injections.

Eligibility

Women eligible for mini-IVF include those:
  • Who doesn’t want to undergo conventional IVF
  • Deterred by high costs of traditional IVF
  • Who want to retrieve multiple superior eggs to store
  • Are undergoing cancer treatment and want inseminated egg cells frozen
  • Who had previously unsuccessful hormonal stimulation
  • With the high risk for OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome)
  • Who has a reduced ovarian reserve of inadequate response to hormonal stimulation
  • Older women, who end up producing 1 – 3 eggs despite hormonal stimulation
  • With “Implantation failures.”

So, Which is More Successful?

While both conventional IVF and mini IVF has its pros and cons, the following points make people favor minimal stimulation more.

Cost

Conventional IVF is costly. It costs around $12,000 for one IVF cycle ($10,000 to $15,000). These do not include medication costs. Mini-IVF, on the other hand, costs only $1,500 to $3,000 per cycle.

Stimulation Procedure

The stimulation procedure in mini-IVF is simple. In conventional IVF, around 15 to 20 eggs are typically retrieved, of which superior quality number only around 4 to 5 eggs. By contrast, mini-IVF results in the growth of only 4 to 8 eggs, of which 3 to 5 eggs are of superior quality. Therefore, despite the reduced number, there is no reduction in superior quality egg cells.

Downregulation/Artificial Menopause Injection

Unlike the conventional IVF, mini-IVF does not require “Downregulation” or artificial menopause injection.

Premature ovulation

In contrast to conventional IVF, premature ovulation is a rarity with mini-IVF