Mini/micro IVF attracts people who are looking for a bargain. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true…it usually is.
You have come to this page because you need to pursue In-Vitro Fertilization and are wondering if Micro/mini IVF or some such named treatment protocol is right for you. You probably have been attracted by the low cost and “convenience” of the process. At Fertility Partnership, after reviewing the success rates of these protocols we have decided that the bold claims made about them are just not substantiated. I have seen some actually call it a “scam”. I personally would not go that far, but I do believe it is misleading to tell people that it is better than traditional IVF. I have some programs give these cycles special names with Scandinavian countries attached as if that will make it more successful. You should take the time to look to see where programs who do these cycles rank with the CDC (where all programs must submit their data) and see the “live birth rates” of programs that do Mini/micro IVF. You have a right to know.
Mini/micro IVF attracts people who are looking for a bargain. The truth is that Mini/micro IVF cycles are far less successful than regular IVF. Just think about it; Mini/micro IVF would be easy for any clinic to do because the protocols are not secret. Therefore, if they were so successful and truly saved patients money wouldn’t many other programs offer similar protocols? The reality is most people have to spend more to achieve a pregnancy with Mini/micro IVF. What the clinics that do Mini/micro IVF don’t tell you is that because they retrieve so few eggs they make very few embryos. The then recommend freezing the ones you do get and repeat the Mini/micro cycle and store more embryos until you have enough to try. This is called “embryo banking”. By doing several rounds of Mini/micro IVF and creating a pile of frozen embryos they only begin to approach the success rates of Traditional IVF. Therefore, Mini/micro IVF costs are significantly higher than a regular IVF cycle performed at a top clinic that is reasonably priced.
There have been claims that the so-called Mini/micro IVF protocols are especially beneficial for people with low egg reserves. Admittedly, that was the original idea behind the development of these cycles that use oral medications and low dose injections. It just didn’t pan out that way. Fertility Partnership has found, like many other top clinics, that with patients with lower egg reserves, it is best to maximize the number of eggs that you get in order to get the highest success rates. That means higher dose medications and no oral medications. In older patients with low egg reserves, then the ideal approach would certainly be to make as many embryos as possible and perform Preimplantation Genetic Screening-PGS to be sure they are genetically normal. However, that leads me down a completely different path for a different blog.
So to summarize, we do not recommend Micro/Mini IVF protocols for those and other reasons. If you’re just trying to save money or if you have a low egg reserve then Micro/Mini IVF is self-defeating and a waste of your resources and time.
On the other hand, at Fertility Partnership we have found a niche for people who want to have a Low Stimulation IVF. These are people who actually have a good egg reserve but require IVF for another reason. A good example would be a younger woman who has had her tubes tied or a man who’s had a vasectomy and would like another child. These are people with very good chances of getting pregnant from IVF and therefore do not need a lot of eggs. Under these conditions, we will be open to performing the Low-Stimulation Protocol IVF. because we do not require a lot of embryos to get a healthy baby. In fact, The best reason to do a low stimulation protocol is if you prefer not to have a lot of frozen embryos that require storage and may never be used!
Low Stimulation Protocol:
The Low Stimulation Protocol IVF used at the Fertility Partnership does not use clomiphene or any oral medication to stimulate the ovaries. The anti-estrogen effect of these drugs is detrimental to the uterine lining. We use just small amounts of the more expensive injectable medications called gonadotropins. This, of course, lowers the cost and decreases the number of eggs that are retrieved which is actually the primary goal. We would like to retrieve no more than three or four mature eggs if possible. The chances of having extra embryos that need to be frozen is very small. The approximate cost is $8800 with expected medication costs are $1-2000. We have no other hidden fees as injection of sperm (ICSI), assisted hatching, and freezing of any embryos (deliberately unlikely) are included. The Fertility Partnership’s Low Stimulation Protocol approach is honest and upfront. You will not need to undergo multiple cycles like you do with Micro/Mini IVF and “bank your embryos” in order to have a chance at success.
We look forward to working with you.
Reprod Biomed Online. 2012 Apr;24(4):396-402. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.12.011. Epub 2012 Jan 8 A case-control pilot study of low-intensity IVF in good-prognosis patients. Gleicher N
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2) Utilization and success rates of unstimulated in vitro fertilization in the United States: an analysis of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology database. John David Gordon, Michael DiMattina, Andrea Reh, Awie Botes, Gerard Celia, Mark Payson et al. Vol 100. No. 2 August 2013. Pages 392-395.