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TTC on a Budget? Minimal Stim IVF or Micro IVF May be for You

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a blog by David Kreiner, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., Apr. 13, 2010

Minimal stimulation in vitro fertilization, also known as Micro IVF and Mini IVF, is a cost effective treatment option for young women attempting to conceive or for older women with high FSH levels.

Although traditional full stimulation in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures produce better pregnancy rates, minimal stimulation IVF (Micro IVF) induces ovarian follicle and egg development with less hormonal stimulation. As a result, patients going through minimal stimulation IVF have less expense (thousands of dollars less) from meds and they save money because Micro IVF requires less monitoring and labwork.

Another benefit to Micro IVF is that a woman is not subjected to the high dose of gonadotropin drug stimulation, which eliminates the risk of hyperstimulation syndrome. Micro IVF also lowers the risk of developing a multiple pregnancy and therefore results in safer pregnancies more likely to result in a live, healthy baby.

Although we get our highest pregnancy rates in young patients with lots of follicles like those with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), Micro IVF may be especially cost effective for older patients who do not respond to gonadotropin stimulation with very many follicles and eggs. We sometimes get as many eggs from a Micro IVF stimulation as a full stimulation in this group.

For patients who do not have coverage for intrauterine insemination (IUI), Micro IVF is a more cost effective, more successful, lower cost alternative and should, therefore, be considered as a first line of fertility treatment before IUI, especially when compared to gonadotropin IUI treatment.

If Micro IVF has all these advantages then why don’t all IVF programs offer it?

The reason may be related to the fact that Micro IVF cases are counted the same as any IVF case in statistical reporting of pregnancy rates. Since success with a full stimulation IVF is still, on average, about twice that of Micro IVF, performing Micro IVFs will lower a program’s reported success rate. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome as many patients will comparison shop statistics prior to selecting an IVF program.

Our patients’ welfare is our concern. And delivering them the safest, most cost effective treatment that will offer them their best chance of building their family is our goal. We wish to make IVF accessible and safe to all those in need.

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