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What is Mini IVF? How is it different from Standard IVF?

Mini IVF, also known as minimal Stimulation IVF or micro IVF, is an Artificial Reproductive Technology procedure similar to standard IVF. The process provides an alternative to conventional IVF using a minimum dose of stimulation. Mini IVF involves retrieval of eggs, sperm retrieval, fertilization of eggs with sperms in the lab, and embryo transfer into the uterus.

Mini IVF uses lower stimulation doses, and hence it involves collecting a lesser number of eggs than the standard IVF process. The conventional IVF requires retrieval of several numbers of eggs, and to retrieve them, a high amount of stimulating medications are necessary. With mini IVF, there is minimal use of stimulating medication to retrieve only a few eggs. Mini IVF is recommended and can be done without the use of stimulating drugs.

With minimal or no stimulating drugs involved in the procedure, the cost per cycle, and the risk of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome is less.

Mini IVF Process

The process of stimulation starts on the second day of the cycle, and during the process, medication is used to encourage the growth and development of fewer follicles. During the entire cycle, there is routine monitoring, timed ovulation, and ultrasound scans but the frequency of monitoring is lesser than that in standard IVF.

During mini IVF, Trans-Vaginal Oocyte Aspiration (TVOA) is performed quickly, reducing the discomfort that the patient might have to face. The pain reduces to the level where they need for sedation or anaesthesia is not required. After TVOA, the rest of the parts of the IVF cycle is performed as with standard IVF. The retrieved eggs are fertilized using sperms, and then transfer fertilized eggs or embryo(s) into the uterus.

Who should consider Mini IVF?

Mini IVF can be the best option for:

  • The women who have PCOS and also has a risk of developing Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • Couples who are looking for a low-cost alternative to the conventional IVF
  • Couples who do not want to preserve the embryo due to personal, religious, or moral reasons. As, only a few numbers of oocytes are retrieved, fertilized to form the embryo and implanted into the uterus, couples do not have to cryopreserve the retrieved eggs or formed embryos.
  • Women who are about to undergo cancer treatment and retrieving eggs to preserve fertility as the drugs used for stimulation might enrage cancer.
  • Women who have a low ovarian reserve with little reserves, stimulation drugs are unlikely to produce a higher quantity of eggs. And if more eggs are retrieved using standard IVF, there may be chances of shortage of eggs.

However, mini IVF is not an appropriate solution for all women. The IVF specialists may assess your health and fertility condition and can then recommend the type of IVF suitable in your situation. In situations where Trans-Vaginal Oocyte Aspiration (TVOA) is difficult due to variations in pelvic anatomy, TVOA under local anaesthesia is not the right recommendation. Patients are advised to undergo a standard IVF procedure.

If the patient has a healthy ovarian reserve, the chances of success are higher with conventional IVF than mini IVF.

Success Rate of Mini IVF

Conventional IVF has a higher success rate than that of mini IVF; still, mini IVF is a better choice for many couples. A study compared the results of mini IVF to conventional IVF, and the result indicated that:

  • The success rate of traditional IVF is around 65%
  • The success rate of mini IVF is only 50%
  • Approximately 6% of the females who underwent conventional IVF developed Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome
  • No patient undergoing Mini IVF developed OHSS.
  • Rate of giving birth to multiple babies was also lesser with mini IVF than standard IVF.

Based on the studies, mini IVF is considered to be the best option for women who are at high risk of developing OHSS.

Benefits of Mini IVF

Mini IVF provides many benefits, including:

  • Produces high-quality eggs suitable for fertilization
  • Lesser discomfort after the retrieval of eggs
  • A lower amount of eggs are discarded as only high-quality eggs are retrieved
  • Decreases the risk of developing OHSS
  • Lower discomfort and side effects due to the use of lesser stimulation drugs
  • The treatment method is more affordable due to the reduced amount of stimulation drugs
  • You can undergo multiple mini IVF cycles back to back.
  • Risk of multiples also reduces due to only one or two embryos involved.
How is Mini IVF compared to IUI?

IUI is more affordable than mini IVF, but it has a higher risk of giving birth to multiples. In Mini IVF only one or two embryos are transferred to the uterus, whereas, you cannot control the number of eggs during the fertilization in IVF. As only fertilized eggs are transported in mini IVF, the success rate is higher than IUI.

Cost of Mini IVF

Mini IVF costs lesser than usual IVF. Each cycle of Mini IVF will cost lesser due to lesser number of stimulation drugs involved. A smaller number of stimulation drugs used reduces the cost of each cycle of mini IVF.

Mini IVF after failed standard IVF

Mini IVF is aimed to retrieve only high-quality eggs, whereas conventional IVF is all about the quantity. In many cases, when trying to retrieve multiple eggs, the process can cause many problems. And, if one cycle of conventional IVF fails to provide results, it does not mean that mini IVF would not work too.

Experts say if a woman had failed a conventional IVF cycle, then she might have better luck with mini IVF.  It would involve lower stimulation protocol. The procedure would be beneficial since only the eggs of higher quality are retrieved and used for fertilization.

When compared to the conventional IVF, each cycle of mini IVF cost lesser, and the risk of developing Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome also decreases. However, the success rate of mini IVF is usually lower than conventional IVF. If the first few cycles of mini IVF fail, the cost of mini IVF can cost you more than standard IVF. The process is recommended for the women with PCOS, or who have low ovarian reserves.