In Vitro Maturation (IVM)
A modification to traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF), IVM is an innovative treatment that limits a patient’s exposure to fertility drugs that can cause complications like severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in women with specific fertility problems such as polycystic ovaries (PCO).
First Successful IVM in the U.S. at DVIF&G
For two years, the experts at DVIF&G worked with the International Review Board to develop treatment protocol for IVM. Along the way, Dr. Taliadouros and Jessica Macdonald were invited to participate in an international IVM experts meeting with other physicians and scientists from 11 countries. Only one practice from each country was invited to participate, and DVIF&G represented the United States.
DVIF&G’s first successful IVM procedure resulted in the July, 2006 birth of J.T. Mozes (video above), the first baby born in the United States as a result of IVM.
IVM vs. IVF
During a traditional IVF procedure, the patient is treated with hormones (gonadotropins) for 10-14+ days, after which mature oocytes (unfertilized egg cells) are extracted and fertilized in vitro.
In contrast, an IVM treatment begins with 3 days of FSH therapy, and is followed by the extraction of immature oocytes. The immature oocytes are then matured in the laboratory using a special culture solution. Once matured, the oocytes are fertilized in the same manner as a traditional IVF procedure. This approach substantially reduces the amount of medication given, the office visits, ultrasounds, and blood tests that the patients receive, resulting in a significant decrease in the cost, stress, and time invested.
IVM Treatment Benefits
Patients who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a metabolic disorder, are at an increased risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) as a result of FSH therapy. OHSS can cause cysts, abdominal bloating, nausea, and excessive weight gain. In severe cases of OHSS, ovaries become swollen, causing dangerous amounts of excess fluids to move from the blood vessels to the stomach and chest, which can result in kidney and respiratory problems. Often, these complications can require extensive medical treatment, hospitalization, or surgical procedures, and the termination of the cycle.
Because IVM requires a much shorter course of FSH therapy (3 days as opposed to 10-14+ days for traditional IVF), the risk of OHSS is lessened. This shortened FSH therapy cycle is beneficial not only to patients with PCOS, but to cancer patients as well. If a patient has been diagnosed with cancer, especially breast cancer, she will likely have an extreme sensitivity to estrogen, making a long course of FSH therapy difficult, if not impossible. In the past, a patient who wished to have eggs extracted before cancer treatment damaged her fertility would need to delay cancer treatment 10-14+ days in order to extract mature eggs for cryopreservation. With IVM, the shorter course of FSH therapy allows the patient to begin cancer treatment sooner.