The basics of mini IVF
Headlines point to an IVF protocol that involves lower doses of fertility medication and slightly lower costs. Mini IVF, or low dose IVF, has come in and out of favor. Texas Fertility Center doctors occasionally hear from women curious about the benefits.
We asked Dr. Kaylen Silverberg to address the thought process behind this IVF protocol, the potential cost savings and TFC’s stance on it.
Theoretically, who benefits from mini IVF?
Women who could benefit include poor responders, or those with diminished ovarian reserve. Mini IVF may allow them to avoid needlessly hammering the ovaries with more fertility medications to produce eggs that just aren’t there. Conversely, young women with a good egg supply may respond adequately to a lower dose of gonadotropins.
Ideally, your fertility specialist will have taken a low ovarian reserve diagnosis into consideration before designing an IVF protocol. Doctors will closely monitor every patient throughout stimulation, adjusting dosages as necessary.
How does it work?
There are several different ways to approach mini IVF. A mini cycle at most fertility centers involves the use of either clomiphene (Clomid), Femara or low dose gonadotropins to stimulate egg development. The remainder of the process works the same as traditional IVF.
Does mini IVF save money on the cost of IVF?
It does save a little, as the medication cost can be significantly less. In the big picture, you’re not saving that much because IVF has a fixed set of clinical costs. Fertility medications are just about a quarter of the total. For example, a typical IVF cycle will require $3,000 for fertility drugs. Mini IVF would drop that down to perhaps less than $1,000.
Additional cost savings may result from the fact that with mini IVF you get fewer eggs, so there is a lower likelihood of having any embryos to freeze, further reducing the cost (as well as the chance for ultimate success). The most important point is that patients should ask their physician if it’s worth the cost savings in their particular situation.
So, bottom line, does TFC recommend mini IVF for its patients?
We are a research-based fertility center, contributing to studies, leading change from our own IVF lab and adopting proven new practices and protocols. In our opinion, the data is just not out there to support mini IVF for most patients, and there are very few objective resources available on IVF protocol. What we need is a prospective randomized trial that compares different types of stimulation protocols in women diagnosed as “poor responders.”
Dr. Silverberg will address the topic of mini IVF at a major fertility conference this month in Las Vegas. If you are considering pursuing IVF to achieve a pregnancy, contact our fertility centers in Austin, Round Rock or San Antonio.