What is mini IVF? Is it the same as IVF, or something different?
Mini IVF, also known as minimal stimulation IVF, is pricipally the same with classical IVF as stimulating the ovaries, monitoring the cycle and fertilizing the eggs in vitro and then transfer them to mother.
Main difference is that how much medication is used to stimulate the ovaries. In classical IVF, we try to produce several eggs, but in mini IVF, low doses of medications are used to produce only a few eggs.
During mini IVF, clomid tablets with low doses of gonadotrophins may be used to stimulate the ovaries. Gonadotropins include medications like Gonal-F, Puregon Follistim, and the similar ones. Alternatively, only lower doses of gonadotropins may be used, with the aim of producing only a few eggs.
Besides ovarian stimulation drugs, we also add a GnRH antagonist (like Antagon and Cetrotide), which prevents ovulation from occurring too early, before your doctor retrieves the eggs from your ovaries.
For some women, it’s also possible to do IVF with no stimulation drugs. This is known as “natural cycle.” This wouldn’t be appropriate if there are any problems with ovulation, but it may be an acceptable choice in cases of blocked fallopian tubes and some cases of male infertility.
What is the main advantage of Mini IVF ?
The biggest pro to mini IVF is cost. A typical IVF cycle costs on average $3,500 – 4,000 USD in our center including the drugs depending on what procedures are needed. Mini IVF costs around $2,500 to 3,000.
Mini IVF also has a lower risk of leading to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS.
Another theoretical advantage is preventing the eggs from the side effects of very high doses of drugs, since more physiological levels of estradiol creates more physiological environment.
What is the disadvantage of Mini IVF ?
With typical IVF, if one cycle doesn’t work, you usually will have some embryos left over to freeze, which can be used during a frozen embryo transfer (FET). With mini-IVF, you are less likely to have any leftover embryos for future trials.
There is also a greater risk of having no eggs to fertilize when using mini-IVF. Not every egg that is produced will survive during the IVF process. As an example, with typical IVF, if 10 eggs are retrieved, it’s possible that only 5 may become fertilized, and just 3 may become healthy embryos to transfer.
If you start off with just two or three eggs, and all of those eggs don’t become fertilized or do not survive the embryo stage long enough to be transferred, you’ve lost the entire cycle.
Another possible problem with mini-IVF is that the procedure has not yet be fully studied, so success rates are unclear. In the largest study to date on mini-IVF, pregnancy rates were about 8% per individual cycle, with a successful pregnancy rate of 20% after three cycles.
It may be a good option for especially older women with previous failed attempts with high doses of drugs. We do not advice mini IVF as the standart treatment at the first trial in our Center.