Natural cycle IVF
Natural cycle IVF is a treatment cycle wherein the ovaries are not stimulated with medications to produce a large number of eggs, as is the norm with all IVF cycles.
This is suitable for women who cannot have medications for medical reasons or otherwise or have previously over responded to medications and had therefore developed a complication of IVF called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
What is Natural Cycle IVF?
The most common journey to pregnancy through IVF involves two drugs; the first suppresses a woman’s natural cycle, the second stimulates her egg production to maximise the number of eggs that can be collected for fertilisation. In Natural Cycle IVF, rather than suppressing a woman’s cycle, eggs will be retrieved after clinicians calculate when she will ovulate naturally.
You may have heard Natural Cycle IVF described as “drug-free” IVF. This is somewhat misleading – although the method involves fewer drugs than typical IVF, the egg retrieval procedure will still require drugs to prepare the eggs.
What are the advantages of Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural Cycle IVF is far gentler on a woman’s body and may feel like a less intense journey. The drugs prescribed with typical IVF to suppress the natural cycle are administered either in nasal spray or, more typically, injection form and are taken daily for a fortnight. The second drug stimulates egg production and is taken as another daily injection for 10–12 days.
To many women, the main advantage of Natural Cycle IVF is these drugs are no longer required. She, or her partner, won’t need to be trained in administering them, and the process will feel much less intrusive on day-to-day life. Natural Cycle IVF may also decrease the likelihood of multiple pregnancies.
Is Natural Cycle IVF for me?
Most people dislike injections, but some of us really struggle with them. If you have a severe phobia of needles, Natural Cycle IVF could be worth considering. The most immediate factor to consider, however, is how regular your usual cycle is. If your period is usually irregular, this won’t immediately rule out Natural Cycle IVF; but it could make it more difficult for a clinician to collect your eggs.
This is also suitable for women who cannot take medications for medical reasons or otherwise, or have previously over responded to medications and had therefore developed a complication of IVF called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
For Natural Cycle IVF to have the best chance of success, your fertility clinic will need to be experienced and invested in your chosen approach. You also need to find a clinic that you really feel you can trust.
What are the success rates of natural cycle IVF?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a national benchmark for Natural Cycle IVF. However, it is generally accepted that the success rates are lower than typical (or stimulated) IVF. Some fertilisation clinics report that the success rate may be around 7%; the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority’s latest statistics show birth rates for all ages at 6%. This is significantly lower than simulated IVF, where birth rates can be as high as 30%, though these figures are dependent on age.
If you would like more advice on whether Natural Cycle IVF is for you, get in touch with us at FertilityOne2One today.