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New Type of IVF Procedure Offers Hope for PCOS Patients

Katlyn Joy |11, March 2014


For women with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, getting pregnant can be problematic at best. This disorder occurs when a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones, resulting in infertility, problems with the menstrual cycle, ovarian cysts, and troublesome sexual characteristics such as a deepened voice, decreases in breast size, and male pattern baldness.

For women with PCOS who are trying to conceive, a new procedure may provide answers. The fertility treatment IVM or in vito maturation, seems a light in the fertility darkness for these women. IVM works in a way similar to standard IVF, but is differentiated by the fact that eggs are retrieved sooner in IVM than in IVF when the eggs are still immature and not around the time when ovulation occurs. The maturation process takes place over 24 to 48 hours in a culture with hormones in the laboratory. Once mature, the eggs are fertilized with a tiny needle injecting a single sperm into each. After fertilization, the embryos are placed in the woman's uterus to be implanted.

Another difference between IVM and IVF is that in IVF, injections of hormone medications are required by the woman in order to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. This stimulation can be dangerous for women with PCOS, as it can cause a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS. This condition is rare and can be serious, causing pain and swelling of the ovaries.

Since these injections are not required for IVM, the risks are greatly diminished for PCOS patients, increasing the possibility of a successful pregnancy.

Because no hormone injections and subsequent monitoring are required in IVM, the costs associated with the procedure are lower. A ballpark comparison puts tradition IVF procedures at ,000 to ,000 a cycle, while IVM costs between 00 and 00. There's also a shorter treatment cycle, which means a quicker pregnancy turnaround in most cases.

The absolute success rates of the newer IVM procedure are still unproved, since it is such a newer treatment. The numbers are not yet available to say for certain how reliable the method will be.

Other good candidates for the IVM procedure include women who are younger and have normal menstrual cycles, and it can also be used with those attempting regular IVF treatments.

Dr. Jesse Hade at Neway Fertility in New York says "Usually women with ... PCOS are the primary candidates for this procedure because they have lots of little immature follicles which lead to lots of little immature eggs. We then go ahead and harvest all these immature eggs, remove them, and then mature them in the petri dish."

Hade is involved in an ongoing study on IVM and reports his own experience puts success rates with IVM in the 80 percent range so far, according to a February 2014 Fox News article.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome or OHSS affects 10 percent of women who go through IVF treatments. The mild symptoms of OHSS include abdominal bloating and discomfort and weight gain. More rare and serious OHSS symptoms include rapid and serious weight gain of more than ten pounds in just a few days, severe pain and swelling of the abdomen, shortness of breath and decreased urination. Treatment for severe cases of OHSS require hospitalization, administration of IV fluids, and close monitoring as fluids that were leaked into your body are collected or removed.

Rarely, severe cases can lead to life-threatening complications such as kidney failure, blood clots, severe fluid retention in the chest or abdomen, or severe electrolyte imbalances.

Should a woman develop OHSS, it's often necessary to stop fertility treatment with IVF. This is why the development of IVM provides hope to many women trying to conceive.

Related Articles

New Drug Offers Hope for Pregnancy for Women Post-Chemo

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS: Lifestyle Changes to Boost Fertility

Coping With the Frustrations of Infertility

Unexplained Infertility


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