In Vitro Maturation (IVM)
What is IVM?
In Vitro Maturation (IVM) stands for In Vitro Maturation and is licensed in the UK by the HFEA. It is an alternative approach for women needing IVF who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or are at serious risk from severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) if ovary stimulating drugs are used.
IVM involves collecting immature eggs from unstimulated ovaries then maturing the eggs in the laboratory. Eggs which go on to mature are injected with a single sperm using the ICSI technique and then, assuming fertilisation takes place, embryos are created. The remainder of the procedure mirrors the IVF / ICSI procedure.
To be suitable for this technique, a large number of immature follicles are needed. These can be assessed using 2/3D ultrasound scanning techniques and performing an ‘antral follicle count’. An AFC of more than 20 generally indicates suitability for the procedure. As with IVF there are occasions when no eggs are collected.
The procedure in not new, in fact it has been around for over 20 years. It is generally accepted to be less successful than standard IVF, hence its use is limited to the tiny group of women for whom standard IVF is inappropriate.