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A mini IVF, or mini in-vitro fertilization, is a lower cost fertility treatment that is very similar to standard IVF, but with reduced doses of fertility drugs and different timing. Mini IVF is also known as micro IVF or low stimulation IVF. There are several significant differences between mini and standard IVF treatments, such as lower cost, less drugs, a smaller number of higher quality eggs, and different timing for the implantation.
IVF is a treatment in which eggs are retrieved from the mother, fertilized, and resulting embryos are implanted back into the mother in an attempt to achieve pregnancy. In standard IVF, the beginning phase is ovarian stimulation, in which massive amounts of fertility drugs are used in an attempt to get the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible. In mini IVF treatment, much fewer drugs are used, with the stated goal being to produce a few high quality eggs. Using fewer drugs dramatically reduces the cost of treatment, since a large part of the cost of IVF treatment is for the fertility drugs used in the process. This may have the effect of making the procedure more accessible to patients who can't afford traditional IVF.
The reduced amount of fertility drugs used in mini IVF for ovarian stimulation purposes means a lower level of stimulation which will often result in less eggs. It also lowers the risks of unpleasant side effects and problems like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a potentially dangerous condition that can result from use of ovarian stimulating drugs. Mini IVF also often uses oral drugs instead of injections, and proponents of the method say it is less stressful and more like the body's natural process.
After ovarian stimulation, the eggs are retrieved, with a typical yield from mini IVF being three to five eggs, as opposed to the ten or more often produced with the standard method. The eggs are then fertilized and monitored closely for development into healthy embryos. Once they have developed to the appropriate stage, the embryos are then flash frozen for implantation during a later menstrual cycle. This differs from the standard procedure in which several embryos are returned to the mother's uterus for implantation right away.
The embryos are frozen with mini IVF because the fertility drugs used can affect the uterine lining and reduce the chance of implantation. The embryos are saved for implantation during a natural cycle to increase the chance of success. Fewer eggs — often just one or two — are typically transferred back to the mother's uterus because the uterus is supposed to be more hospitable for implantation, thus raising the chance of success. Any remaining embryos are saved for future use.
With less embryos transferred during a cycle, mini IVF can reduce the risk of multiple births, which are more common with conventional fertility treatment. Supporters of the method claim it is less stressful on the mother's body with similar successful pregnancy rates to standard methods, all at a lower cost. Although it is relatively new, it appears to be a promising method of treatment with growing acceptance.
IVF treatments can be very expensive. A standard treatment can cost almost $20,000 and couples have been known to go into debt just to have one baby. A cheaper alka-seltzer type method is being developed in Britain for less than 1,000 pounds, but doctors said the process could cost more once it is available to just anyone. One couple went $40,000 into debt just to have one baby.
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