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In vitro maturation (IVM) is fertility treatment where a woman’s ovaries are minimally stimulated with fertility drugs to produce multiple eggs which are retrieved when they are not yet mature. Unlike IVF, the eggs are matured outside the ovaries, in the lab. The eggs are then fertilized by injecting one sperm directly into the egg – a process known as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). The resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus.

IVM might seem like a clear choice for fertility treatment for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who bear the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). But all fertility treatments need to be individualized.

According to Dr. Mark Surrey, Co-founder and Medical Director of Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills, CA, “IVM is a possible alternative treatment for women with PCOS who have trouble conceiving. More traditional fertility treatments, such as IVF, are as associated with an increased risk for OHSS in women with PCOS. IVM would eliminate the risk of OHSS in these women.”

“Although there is not a lot of good evidence in regards to the success rates of IVM, the overall pregnancy rates appear to be lower than with IVF,” Surrey adds. “In addition, there are many ways to manipulate an IVF cycle to prevent OHSS, even in women with PCOS.”

Advantages of IVM for PCOS include:

  • Lower cost than IVF
  • Lower risk of OHSS
  • Fewer medications required for the patient

Disadvantages of IVM for PCOS include:

  • Lower success rates than IVF
  • No randomized control trials to prove the best technique or success rates

To date, approximately 500 babies have been born using IVM, and the ASRM considers it an experimental procedure. If you are considering IVM or any fertility treatment, discuss all your options with your fertility doctor to determine the right one for you.


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