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What is ‘mini IVF,’ and who is a good candidate?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Assisted Reproduction

Many Minnesota same-sex couples and those with fertility issues turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a solution to build their families. But conventional IVF can be physically, mentally and financially challenging. That has led to the increased use of another similar method called “mini IVF.”

While essentially the same process, mini IVF differs in that it involves lower doses of medication and costs less than the traditional procedure. Fertility experts say the process is easier on women’s ovaries, as less medication typically creates fewer side effects. This makes the egg retrieval process safer, whether for the intended mother or an egg donor.

IVF vs. mini IVF

Traditional IVF requires daily high-dosage shots to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs. Mini IVF uses a combination of oral medications and lower-dose injections to stimulate egg production. Dosages are often only about one-third compared to conventional IVF.

The difference in cost is also significant. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) says traditional IVF usually runs between $10,000 and $15,000 per cycle but can be as high as $25,000. Mini IVF can range between $5,000 and $15,000 per cycle due primarily to the lower doses of medication.

Doctors say besides the cost, a substantial benefit for many women is experiencing fewer physical difficulties with the process. Still, fertility experts say mini IVF produces fewer eggs, and, thus, embryos, for some women, which could mean more cycles are necessary.  Fewer eggs may also be undesirable for gay couples who want the donor to yield enough eggs for fertilization with both partners’ sperm in order to allow each of them to have a genetically related child.

Who can benefit the most?

Putting the difference in cost aside, fertility specialists say women with specific physical challenges related to fertility may be the best candidates for mini IVF. They are:

  • Those with a high risk of OHSS: The Mayo Clinic says ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome results from having excess hormones in the body. Women with the disorder often experience severe bloating, nausea and diarrhea, along with pain and tenderness in the abdomen and ovaries.
  • Those with PCOS: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may not ovulate. The hormonal disorder often causes small cysts in the ovaries.
  • Those with low ovarian reserves: Mini IVF can also be a good option for women who cannot tolerate high-dosage meds that stimulate egg production and those whose ovaries have lost their normal reproductive potential, which commonly occurs as a woman ages.

Understand the medical options and legal concerns

Minnesota couples considering fertility techniques, such as IVF, often don’t know where to find reliable information. They may also not be aware of the complex legal issues involved. That’s why consulting with an attorney specializing in assisted reproduction law is advisable. Experienced lawyers can help minimize risks related to the lack of uniform laws related to fertility techniques and discuss the multiple points in the IVF process at which legal issues arise even if egg donors are not involved. They can also recommend reputable medical providers to help you make the right choice for your family.