Every woman’s body is born with a number of oocytes exceeding two million. These oocytes are initially at an immature stage that lasts for many years. The transition to puberty marks the beginning of their ripening through each month’s ovulation.
Every month, the female body prepares around 20 oocytes for the final maturation stage. Although only one of these will proceed to ovulation, almost all the other oocytes can be matured and fertilised. With the completion of ovulation, however, all other oocytes of this cycle will inevitably proceed to degeneration and eventually be absorbed by the body itself.
Since the middle of last century, we have known that human oocytes can complete the final stages of maturation in laboratory conditions. This in vitro maturation of oocytes, combined with the knowledge that these oocytes can also be fertilised in the laboratory, laid the foundations for the development of a new field in the facilitation of human reproduction, known as In Vitro Maturation (IVM).
The first great advantage of in vitro maturation of oocytes for a woman is that it minimises the use of hormonal drugs. As such, treatment with vitro maturation closely resembles IVF treatment in a natural cycle, with the advantage of harvesting multiple oocytes instead of one, during the natural cycle. The fewer drugs used, means fewer possible side effects during treatment and over the longer term.