Natural Cycle IVF
Natural Cycle IVF
Natural Cycle IVF is very similar to standard IVF, except very little medication is used to stimulate a patient's ovaries. It is sometimes called “Drug Free IVF” because patients do not need to inject costly drugs (gonadotropins) daily. In standard IVF, gonadotropins are used to stimulate the ovaries to mature many eggs at once. Unlike in standard IVF, Natural Cycle IVF patients use only oral medication to enhance the natural development of ovarian follicle(s) and egg(s) to prepare the patient for an egg harvesting procedure. Naturally, the body usually matures only one egg at a time. The oral medication may help to select better, more robust eggs for retrieval and may sometimes induce several eggs to mature at the same time. At the end of the course of oral medication, an injection is given to trigger ovulation so that the harvesting procedure can be properly timed.
Before recent advancements in the fertilization and culturing techniques used in IVF laboratories, Natural Cycle IVF was considered too inefficient to be worthwhile. Natural Cycle IVF has now gained worldwide attention as an alternative to conventional IVF for both normal and poor responders. FIRST is proud to be the only South Florida fertility clinic to offer this treatment option!
Natural cycle IVF has several advantages over standard IVF, including very low cost, eliminating the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), no need to administer daily gonadotropin injections, no need to draw blood at each monitoring session to check hormone (estradiol) levels, and no risks associated with general anesthesia. The risk of multiple pregnancy is very low, as well, so it is considered safer than standard IVF. Also, Natural Cycle IVF rarely results in the production of excess embryos, which are costly to freeze and store and whose future disposition can become problematic for patients.
Is Natural Cycle IVF right for me?
In order to understand if Natural Cycle IVF is the right choice for you, you must speak with our fertility specialist to fully understand the risks and benefits. Although more affordable, even if several attempts are necessary to achieve a live birth, Natural Cycle IVF does not carry as high a success rate per egg retrieval compared to conventional IVF; it is less efficient. Patients should be prepared to expect that they might have to try this approach a few times to achieve a live birth. In addition, some patients may not be able, or wish, to tolerate the in-office egg harvesting procedure with only an oral sedative to ease the minimal discomfort that can accompany the procedure. During your consultation, Dr. Selub will review your medical history and discuss the pros and cons of Natural Cycle IVF versus stimulated IVF in your particular situation.
What is Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural cycle IVF is in vitro fertilization, but simply without the use of large amounts of medications to stimulate your ovaries to make multiples eggs. You will be monitored in your natural cycle with vaginal ultrasound exams to follow the development of the dominant follicle. When the dominant follicle(s) is determined to be fully mature, you will take a final injection to induce ovulation in about 40 hours, but the egg(s) will be harvested from your ovaries 36 hours later, before your own ovulation actually occurs. A thinner needle than that used for standard IVF is used to retrieve the egg(s) for Natural Cycle IVF so there is only minimal discomfort during the procedure. If an egg is retrieved from your follicle(s), it is then fertilized in the laboratory in the same way as traditional IVF. If an embryo is formed and continues to develop, it can, as in standard IVF, be tested for common genetic abnormalities (if you choose this extra step and relatively low additional expense). Whether or not genetic testing is performed, your embryo would be transferred back to the uterus, just as it is done with conventional IVF.
Why should I be interested in Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural Cycle IVF (unstimulated IVF) is a valuable alternative to traditional stimulated IVF cycles. It appeals to patients because it is a low risk procedure with lower costs than stimulated IVF and is patient-friendly. Natural Cycle IVF offers patients the advantages of the IVF process with fewer medications (meaning less cost and fewer injections), fewer side effects, and fewer office visits (all of which leads to less stress). Additionally, there is no risk of hyperstimulation and less physical stress on the body as a result of the minimal amount of medication taken and the elimination of the need for intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia, administered in an operating room.
At FIRST IVF we encourage you to inform yourself before making a decision about which treatment to choose. During your initial consult, please ask questions about how Natural IVF works, for example, success rates per cycle, whether you will be able to preserve embryos for future use, and the financial aspects associated with trying Natural Cycle IVF. Whatever route you choose, at whichever fertility clinic you select, inquire about the risks involved and the the emotional, as well as the monetary, cost of each cycle!
Since Natural Cycle IVF does not use strong medications to stimulate the ovaries, the cycle may produce only one, or even no mature egg at a time.
The pregnancy rate of Natural Cycle IVF is approximately one half of that in stimulated cycles. The rate of implantation per embryo, however, is higher in Natural Cycle IVF.