In Vitro Maturation (IVM)

26 October 2007

A pair of twins were born yesterday – the first in Britain – through in vitro maturation (IVM) and this has been hailed as a major breakthrough that is an alternative to in vitro fertilisation (IVF). So what are the differences between the two fertility strategies?

In the normal course of IVF, the patient is stimulated with high doses of hormones in order to induce multiple oocytes maturation. The mature oocytes would then be collected for in vitro fertilisation with donor sperms, and successful embryos implanted into the patient (or a surrogate). Fingers crossed, implantation takes place and voila, full term pregnancy. Maybe even twins, since it’s common practice to implant up to 3 embryos at one time. The downside to IVF is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which could be mild but in some cases, severe and life threatening.

Through IVM, only low dose of hormomes is administered prior to oocyte collection. The oocytes at this stage would be immature, but matured in the lab following retrieval. A rather labourious process which includes incubation with maturation medium laces with antibiotics and hormones. Following fertilisation, the normal steps of IVF proceed.

The upside of IVM is the reduction of risks taken by the patients that are the side effects of the IVF fertility treatment. It is also cheaper which means greater accessibility to patients who had not choice but to go down this route in order to get pregnant. Unfortunately the success rate of IVM is lower than IVF, as lab-matured oocytes are less permeable to sperms.

I also wonder, although I haven’t seen much of this point being brought up, is the effect of the maturation medium used, if any. Since the technology is relatively novel, and only a handful of children have been born through the help of the procedure, could there be an elevated occurence of particular medical condition or disease than what that is norm? Or development problem? Anything at all?


2 Responses to “In Vitro Maturation (IVM)”

  1. med said

    thanks for the info on IVM..this is the first time i am reading about it and the possible concerns raised..they are indeed very valid but i am sure/hope those have already been addressed by the relevant parties involved b4 allowing this technique to be used by the public

    again…there could be many possibilities and some may not have been covered so only time will tell and may God Bless the babies 😉

  2. alexalynn said

    Well, there’s only so much effect one can see right now phenotypically, and so far so good. For any long term effects, we won’t know until we give it more time.

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