Reproductive Health Center, Tucson, Arizona

Will IVM change fertility treatment?

Will in vitro maturation (IVM) change fertility treatment? – IVF Scottsdale

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has long been the standard of care for women who are unable to conceive naturally. Scientists are always seeking new ways to improve the success rates of IVF, such as through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and assisted hatching (AH), both of which are standard in our clinic. Now, there may be a new improvement to IVF coming soon. It’s called in vitro maturation, or IVM.

What is IVM? – IVF Scottsdale

In order to create embryos in the laboratory, fertility professionals need both sperm and eggs. Sperm are easy to obtain, but obtaining eggs is a bit more challenging. The usual procedure in IVF is for the woman to take certain fertility hormones to cause the ripening of several eggs at once. The doctor can then obtain those eggs during a minor procedure, and they will be fertilized in the laboratory to create embryos.

Using the current standard IVF technology, eggs are retrieved from the mother’s body when they’re mature, or “ripe.” In a natural menstrual cycle, only one egg (or occasionally two) will undergo the process of maturation. This is why women need to take hormones before the egg retrieval, in order to cause more eggs to mature. However, a woman’s ovaries are filled with immature eggs. If these could be matured in the laboratory, then the woman would not need to take hormones before the egg retrieval cycle.

This is what in vitro maturation does. Scientists have now developed methods of allowing eggs to mature outside of a woman’s body. Eggs can be removed in their immature state, and then they can mature in the laboratory. When they’re ready, sperm are added to fertilize the eggs and create embryos.

Previous IVM technology appeared to have a lower success rate than the traditional IVF method of harvesting mature eggs. However, new research published by teams in Australia and Belgium reports that they have achieved pregnancy rates using IVM that are equal to those of traditional IVF.

Why is IVM important?  – IVF Scottsdale

Being able to have egg retrieval without needing to take hormones first could make a big difference for women. There are some women who want to freeze their eggs but don’t have time for a cycle of hormones. One situation in which this is common is women who are about to undergo cancer treatment. The ability to freeze immature eggs, and then use IVM later when they’re ready to have kids, could allow these women to preserve their fertility.

The hormones necessary for a normal egg retrieval cycle are a barrier to some women. The cost of these medications could be a challenge for some families. For others, the side effects that these hormones cause in some women might be a problem. For these families, IVM could represent a huge shift in the IVF process.

Can I get IVM now? – IVF Scottsdale

Although researchers have been developing the IVM technology for years, it’s not yet ready for use in fertility clinics. There are still safety studies being conducted, to verify that IVM will result in healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Once enough research has been conducted to ensure that IVM is safe and effective, then we’ll begin to offer this technology to our patients. We’ve always been on the cutting edge of fertility technology, while at the same time recognizing the importance of holistic fertility treatment that addresses topics like nutrition and stress. As soon as IVM is an option, we’ll definitely let you know!

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