In vitro maturation

In vitro maturation (IVM) is a fertility treatment and an alternative to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for some women. The two methods closely resemble each other. With IVM, a woman’s eggs mature in a petri dish instead of in the follicles within the ovaries.
IVM is suitable for women who are at high risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). For example, if you have PCOS or other hormonal conditions.

What is in vitro maturation (IVM)?

IVM stands for in vitro maturation. The expression “in vitro” is used for procedures that happen in dishes or test tubes outside the body.

IVM is, just like IVF, an assisted reproductive technology (ART). It may be an option if you are having problems falling pregnant and if IVF is not appropriate.

"With IVM we collect your eggs before they mature. The eggs are placed in a special culture medium overnight to mature. After approximately 24 hours, we fertilise the now mature eggs with sperm and transfer them into your uterus."
Dr Doreen Yeap, Fertility Specialist Perth
 

IVM step by step

in vitro maturation
IVM closely resembles conventional IVF treatment. Here are the steps of IVM treatment:

Initial testing

Prior to treatment, you will have an ultrasound and blood tests to check for any other problems.

Hormonal stimulation

You start taking hormone medication. Compared to IVF there are fewer injections.

Egg collection

We collect your eggs using transvaginal ultrasound. This means we use a thin needle with suction through the vagina, retrieving eggs from the follicles. This procedure is done under a general anaesthetic.

Egg maturation

The collected eggs are matured with a stimulating hormone in a petri dish along with culture medium. This takes about 24 hours.

Egg fertilisation

The egg is then fertilised with sperm in the dish.

Insertion into the uterus

Typically we place one embryo into your uterus. It is important to note that if transferring more than one embryo, the risk of multiple pregnancies is increased.

Pregnancy test

Around 12 days after transferring the embryo into your uterus, we test if the IVM was successful and if you have conceived. We do this with a simple blood test (pregnancy test).

Who is suitable for IVM?

Compared with IVF, IVM treatment does not require as many hormone injections for the woman.
Those who may benefit from IVM over IVF include:

Women with PCOS

Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may have complex infertility issues. And, to make things harder for PCOS patients, traditional hormonal IVF treatment can increase the risk of serious side effects.

IVF hormone treatment can cause a condition known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) in women with PCOS. This is when your ovaries respond too well to the hormones. OHSS is characterised by swollen ovaries resulting from a fluid buildup. It is painful and potentially dangerous.

Women with cancer

Traditional IVF hormone treatment may not only stimulate the ovaries, but also cancer cells. Therefore, some women with cancer or women recovering from cancer will be prescribed additional medication to ensure their hormone levels are not too high in the cycle. IVM may be a good alternative, as you need up to 90% less hormone supplementation compared with traditional IVF treatment.
With traditional IVF treatment, hormone injections stimulate the maturation of eggs. This maturation happens inside the follicles within a woman’s ovaries. It’s important to note that IVM is not suitable for all women.
Professor Roger Hart, Fertility Specialist Perth

Key points

IVM may be a suitable infertility treatment for:

Women with PCOS

Women with cancer

IVM vs IVF

IVM is similar to IVF, except for the fact that immature eggs are collected and fertilised, instead of already mature eggs. The success rates of these two treatments are very similar.
Talk to our IVM fertility specialists to learn more about which option is best for you.
"The most important benefit of IVM over IVF is the reduced need for the woman to take as many hormones. This reduces the risk of overstimulation and makes IVM treatment a better option for women with certain hormonal or other medical conditions."
Professor Roger Hart, Fertility Specialist and Gynaecologist at Fertility Specialists of WA

What if IVM doesn’t work?

As with any type of assisted reproductive treatment (ART), there is no guarantee this procedure will result in pregnancy. That said, the pregnancy rates for IVM and IVF are similar.

With this treatment, you have the option to go through the cycle again, should it not be successful.

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