Natural Cycle IVF uses no drugs to stimulate the growth of follicles and follows the natural selection of the leading follicle.
Conventional IVF is necessary for many patients. It utilises drugs to obtain multiple eggs and create multiple embryos to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. In Natural Cycle IVF there is no use of stimulation drugs. Your body naturally selects your best egg. When mature, usually around the tenth day of your cycle, the egg is retrieved. Egg collection is a straightforward procedure. With only one follicle, it takes less than 5 minutes to retrieve the egg. Many patients complete the procedure without the need for sedation or pain relief medication and are able to return to work the same day. Your egg is then fertilised with your partner’s or donor's sperm using modern laboratory techniques. Two to three days later a single embryo is replaced in the uterus during embryo transfer procedure. Two weeks later we test for a pregnancy. The entire process is based on your menstrual cycle and takes 10-14 days. You have no or minimal use of drugs and a very low chance of multiple pregnancy.
Many women opt for Natural Cycle IVF to minimise the cost and the discomfort associated with ovarian stimulation. There are cases in which the outcome with Natural Cycle IVF is predicted to be the same as with stimulated IVF, in which case we would advise it as the treatment of choice.
Advantages of Natural Cycle IVF
- No or minimal ovarian stimulation drugs
- Considered less stressful by many
- Less costly
- Can be repeated with back-to-back cycles
- No risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
- Cumulative pregnancy rates may be similar to one stimulated IVF
Are You A Candidate for Natural Cycle IVF?
- Age less than 45
- Regular menstrual cycles
- No hydrosalpinx
- Normal uterus
- No medical contraindications
Natural Cycle IVF May Treat Infertility Patients Who Have:
- Low ovarian reserve
- No or poor response to conventional IVF
- Previous unsuccessful stimulated IVF treatments
- Male factor subfertility
- Tubal occlusion
- Pelvic Adhesions
Natural Cycle IVF is not new. The first IVF baby in the world was from a natural cycle in 1978 in UK. At that time, the IVF pregnancy rates were low, so stimulated IVF using fertility drugs became the standard in order to produce more eggs and embryos so that multiple embryos could be transferred back into the uterus. Over time stimulated IVF resulted in greatly improved pregnancy rates. However, some concerns have been raised as to side effects resulting from the use of stimulation drugs and the risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
What About the Natural Cycle IVF Pregnancy Rates?
The concern with Natural Cycle IVF has focused on the lower success rates and the need for multiple treatment cycles to achieve the same pregnancy rates as a single treatment cycle of stimulated IVF. Current medical literature contains many reports showing acceptable clinical pregnancy rates using Natural Cycle IVF ranging from 15-25% per embryo transfer. This includes patients who are known to be “poor responders” to stimulatory drugs.
Philosophy Regarding Stimulated and Natural Cycle IVF
At City Fertility, we believe in an individualised approach to your fertility challenges and a bespoke fertility treatment plan. Natural Cycle IVF is certainly one of many treatment options that we will discuss with you. There are many patients who have failed or are not candidates for stimulated IVF and have nevertheless achieved a successful pregnancy using Natural Cycle IVF. Some were told that their only option for pregnancy was through egg donation or adoption. Some experts now recommend that patients consider Natural IVF prior to undergoing egg donation or adoption (Kadoch et al., 2011, Fertility/Sterility).