IVM - In Vitro Egg Maturation. A Way to Avoid Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome
I just read an interesting article about IVM - in vitro egg maturation. The method, according to the article, isn't new, but so far only about 300 babies have been born using it. Its main advantage is that it allows a short treatment cycle (3 days of medications) after which the immature ova are obtained. This significantly reduces (or perhaps completely eliminates) the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). For women who have suffered OHSS and are afraid to go through another IVF cycle or have been told by their doctor that it is too risky, IVM can be a last-resort by which they could still have a baby of their own.
The article specifically mentions women with polycystic ovarian syndrome as good candidates for IVM. I actually never knew that having PCOS put women at higher risk for ovarian hyperstimulation, but apparently, as mentioned in this article (by a center offering IVM), it does.
One disadvantage of in vitro egg maturation is that frequently the outer part of the egg becomes practically impenetrable - the sperm just can't get in, requiring intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to be performed. Another disadvantage is that the ova are extremely sensitive and therefore need to be tracked very carefully as they are being matured in the lab. Both of these issues raise the costs associated with the procedure (compared to regular IVF), though the cost is likely to be offset by the much lower cost of medications used to stimulate egg production and the savings due to having less blood tests and ultrasounds (because of the shorter stimulation protocol).
IVM can also be used with regular IVF cycles, when despite a regular stimulation protocol many immature oocytes are obtained, so it can also give couples going through IVF more eggs, meaning that they will have more embryos to freeze for future cycles.
I'm always encouraged to hear that there are more and more solutions for infertility. If IVM can be perfected, perhaps someday in the not-too-distant future, it can replace today's method (usually 1-2 weeks of daily injections) that puts a great strain on women's bodies and consumes so much of their time and energy.