Definition - What does Mini-IVF mean?

Mini-IVF is a variation of in vitro fertilization (IVF) that utilizes less medication then the standard IVF protocol. While standard IVF collects a large number of eggs through the use of injectable ovarian induction (OI) drugs, mini-IVF forgoes injectable OI drugs, and depends on a natural cycle or a cycle using limited, low cost drugs.

The remainder of the process, including lab based fertilization and embryo transfer, remains the same. While mini-IVF may be less effective then standard IVF, some patients may benefit from this alternative approach.

FertilitySmarts explains Mini-IVF

The first baby born via IVF was conceived without the use of fertility drugs. However, as science and fertility treatments have advanced, research has shown that the likelihood of a successful conception increases with the use of injectable OI medications.

The type of medication injected is called gonadotropin. Naturally produced by the body, gonadotropin regulates the two primary sex hormones that contribute to ovulation: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH). The injection provides a large dose of gonadotropin, which overrides the body’s naturally process, and compels the ovaries to develop multiple eggs at once.

There is no universal approach to a mini-IVF protocol, and the process can included a limited amount of OI medication or none at all. Typically, the amount used is customized for each patient’s needs. Some low level medications may be used, such as clomid or an hCG trigger shot.

One of the primary reasons mini-IVF is preferred is the significant cost reduction. The cost of the injectable medication is high, and eliminating it also reduces the amount of testing and number of office visits required. Additionally, the egg retrieval process is less costly, as there are fewer eggs to retrieve.

However, the disadvantage to mini-IVF is the notable reduction in success when compared to full stimulating protocols. While it is still possible to conceive through mini-IVF, patients who elect this approach face lower odds of achieving a successful pregnancy. Having access to multiple eggs allows for endocrinologists (the scientists who study the eggs) to determine viability and health, and only recommend transfer for the embryos with the highest potential of conception. Having a larger number of eggs increasing the chances of having a healthy embryo to transfer.

Ideal patients for mini-IVF include:

  • Women at risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
  • Women whose ovaries respond poorly to stimulation
  • Women or couples who wish to avoid the fertilization of multiple eggs or embryos for ethical or religious reasons
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