With so many fertility treatment options available to patients today, it can be difficult to decide which course to take – especially when taking cost-effectiveness into consideration. One treatment option that deserves particular consideration is Mini-IVF. What is Mini-IVF? And when should it be considered as a treatment option? Dr. Walid Saleh of SIRM Dallas fertility center in Dallas, Texas is here to answer all of your questions about Mini-IVF.
What is Mini-IVF?
Mini-IVF is a fertility treatment option that is similar to IVF, but utilizes minimal stimulation medications, sometimes combined with oral medications (like clomid) to minimize the cost of IVF. In a Mini- IVF cycle, the ovaries are stimulated with a lower dosage of medication. These cycles require less monitoring than traditional IVF. The eggs are retrieved like any other IVF cycle, but to minimize cost, they are often fertilized naturally (i.e. without injecting the sperm directly into each egg through a process called ICSI). The best embryo(s) will then be transferred back into the uterus to implant.
What are the Pros of Mini-IVF?
The lower cost of Mini-IVF is the most appealing aspect of this treatment for many patients. The cost of Mini- IVF is less that traditional IVF due to several factors including:
- Less Laboratory involvement – fertilization is not assisted.
- Fewer Medications – Mini-IVF uses much lower dosage than the typical IVF dosage. It is important to note that this results in fewer eggs of the same quality. IVF medications do not worsen egg DNA and natural cycles do not yield better egg quality. It’s a number’s game.
- Less Monitoring– Often there are fewer monitoring visits needed during the cycle.
What are the Cons of Mini-IVF?
Mini-IVF is not for everyone. Although the lower price point of Mini- IVF is appealing, for many patients, some people have a much better chance of being successful with traditional IVF. This is due to a multitude of factors including:
- Maternal Age – It is very important not to fall for the selling pitch that “less is better” when considering your treatment options. The number of chromosomally normal eggs is 1/3 at age 30, 1/5 at age 35, 1/10 at age 40 and 1/20 at age 45. This is true whether IVF medications are used or not. Because of this, women over 35, who have fewer chromosomally normal eggs, should not utilize Mini-IVF. If anything, it may be necessary to consider using a higher dosage of medications to maximize the number of eggs retrieved and to increase the chance of finding a chromosomally normal embryo. Because women above 35 or those with lower ovarian reserve may not generate many eggs on a low medication dosage, it may take multiple Mini-IVF cycles to create a chromosomally normal embryo. This ultimately makes this option less cost-effective for this age group.
In extreme cases of decreased ovarian reserve, an IVF may yield 1-2 eggs, even on a high dosage. One may ask “Since the yield is low, why waste precious resources on costly medications?” I would go a step further and recommend natural conception instead and saves precious financial resources since an ovary ovulates a free every month. Of course, in the presence of tubal factor, natural conception is not possible and we still offer IVF as a last resort.
- Male Factor Infertility – If your infertility is due to a male factor, injecting a single sperm into each egg (ICSI) is indicated. For this reason, traditional IVF is the best bet.
- Genetic Conditions – If you or your partner have a genetic condition that can be passed on to your child. Mini-IVF may not be the best treatment option for you. In this case, creating as many embryos as possible gives you the best chance of testing them prior to transfer (PGD) and selecting the genetically normal ones.
Who benefits best from Mini-IVF?
At SIRM-Dallas, your overall success using the most cost-effective treatment is our primary goal. That is why we only recommend Mini-IVF for those who actually benefit from this low cost option. Our goal is to maximize your chance of conception, not doing IVF per se.
The qualifying criteria for Mini- IVF are as follow:
- Age less than 36 (better chance of getting good eggs)
- Regular periods (no PCOS affecting egg quality)
- Good egg reserve with AMH >2 (good response to low dose protocols)
- Normal Semen analysis (good fertilization)
Choosing Depending on Your Unique Needs
Every patient is unique, and so are their fertility treatment needs. It’s important for each patient to make a decision depending on their individual needs after speaking in depth with their fertility doctor. At SIRM Dallas, our goal is to guide patients thorough their treatment options to help them realize their dreams of family. We meet with each patient to walk them through each of the treatment options available to them and to explain which path provides the best chance of success.
Have you been trying to conceive without success? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Walid Saleh and get started on your path to parenthood by calling us at 972-566-6686 today.