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Mini-IVF. Micro-IVF. Low Stim IVF. Minimal Stimulation IVF. All can be described as in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocols in which women take oral fertility medications with no or very minimal use of the injectable gonadotropins.
Benefits of Mini-IVF
- Cost Effectiveness. Mini-IVF is about 40 percent to 60 percent cheaper than traditional IVF. Because the high-priced fertility medications are either not used at all or used very sparingly, this saves a lot of money.
- Fewer Embryos. With Mini-IVF, the ovary only produces a few eggs for retrieval. As a result, fewer embryos are created and available to freeze for later. (Some may consider this a limitation.)
- Higher Implantation Rates. Embryo implantation rates tend to be higher among those embryos that are created with Mini-IVF. This decreases the need for transferring as many embryos, thus lessening the chance for a multiple pregnancy.
Candidates for Mini-IVF
Basically, there are two major groups that find Mini-IVF most beneficial: “uncomplicated patients” and older women and poor responders.
Uncomplicated patients are typically younger, have normal periods, ovulate regularly, and have relatively “normal” hormone levels. Typically, these patients would have tried intrauterine insemination (IUI) first. Because the success rates of IUI are significantly lower than IVF success rates, some fertility clinics have tried to come up with a more “middle-of-the-road” approach that would minimize the cost-prohibitive nature of IVF while increasing overall success rates. Since these patients are considered “uncomplicated” and probably have a pretty good chance at becoming pregnant, clinics are able to streamline their office visits and monitoring, which cuts costs even more.
The second group of good candidates for Mini-IVF includes older women and poor responders. Because these women respond poorly to fertility medications anyway, they have nothing to gain by using the highly-potent and extremely expensive gonadotropins. While they will still only produce a few eggs per cycle, these eggs might even be of better quality than if they had used more fertility medications.
Keep in mind that not all women are good candidates for Mini-IVF. If you do not fall into one of these categories you would not want to use up funds on multiple Mini-IVF attempts when other treatment options would have been a better choice from the start.
Mini-IVF is still a fairly new protocol and not all fertility clinics offer it. So far, there are not a lot of data looking at the overall success rates and long-term outcomes of Mini-IVF. While Mini-IVF usually has better success than IUI, its overall success rates are still not as good as traditional IVF.