Low Stimulation In Vitro Fertilization
What is Mini IVF?
Mini IVF is IVF with a reduced or minimal stimulation protocol. Mini IVF generally uses a small amount of oral stimulation medications like Letrozole along with a small amount of injectable medications like Gonal F, Follistim, or Menopur.
By using fewer medications one is usually able to produce a smaller number of high-quality eggs while at the same time being easier on the body. Because these eggs can be of higher quality than the large number retrieved during a standard stimulation protocol, we typically see similar overall success rates with Mini IVF despite starting with a smaller number of total eggs.
Top Reasons to Do Mini IVF
Low or Diminished Ovarian Reserve
Women with DOR may not respond well to the stimulating medications, so taking fewer medications doesn’t mean fewer eggs. Since you wouldn’t be getting any more eggs by taking more medications, there would be little point in doing so.
High Risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation
Those at risk for OHSS like those with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may be a good candidate for Mini IVF since by lowering the amount of medications used, one lowers the risk of hyperstimulating the ovaries.
Because fewer medications will be used, the cost of Mini IVF will be substantially less. Know, however, by taking fewer medications there is a chance fewer embryos are made meaning you may have to do another more costly IVF cycle rather than using your remaining frozen embryos for an affordable FET (FETs within one year of your IVF cycle are only $450).
Some feel that this treatment protocol is more in line with their philosophical beliefs as it reduces the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation as well as reduces the chance of having a large number of remaining embryos after attaining a clinical pregnancy. While there are many suitable options to dealing with these remaining embryos including storing them for the future, discarding them, and our favorite at CNY, embryo donation, many would prefer not to have to make this choice at all.
What to Expect
What is the Difference Between IVF and Mini IVF
The key difference between IVF and Mini IVF is the amount of medications used in the simulation protocol and the consequences of the reduced medication. Generally speaking, a mini IVF cycle produces fewer eggs than a full stimulation cycle. While fewer eggs generally means fewer embryos to transfer, there is some evidence to suggest the fewer embryos made in a mini IVF cycle are of higher quality on average thus leading to very similar success rates. Similarly, by using less medications one has less risk for ovarian hyperstimulation.
Besides those small differences, the process of Mini IVF is virtually the same as IVF. That is, a Mini IVF cycle still consists of a baseline, follicular development, egg and sperm retrieval and preparation, fertilization, embryo development, embryo transfer, and the establishment of clinical pregnancy.