What is Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural cycle IVF involves collecting and fertilising the one egg that you release during your normal monthly cycle. There is no medication used in this treatment. With conventional IVF medication is used to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs which are then fertilised and made into embryos, thereby allowing for the fact that most never develop. A natural cycle of IVF will involve fewer scans at the start and extra scans at the end to monitor the natural cycle and collect the egg just before ovulation.
What are the advantages of Natural Cycle IVF?
The advantages of natural cycle IVF are that you take no medication and need less monitoring. As your ovaries are not being artificially stimulated, you don’t need to wait a couple of months between treatments (if unsuccessful), before beginning another cycle. Therefore cumulative success rates over time for natural cycle IVF can be similar to conventional IVF. The price of a single cycle is a little lower and you can save many hundreds of pounds in medications costs.
What are the disadvantages of Natural Cycle IVF?
The disadvantage of natural cycle IVF is that the pregnancy rate is significantly lower. There is more of a risk as to whether you will produce an egg and it may not be collected at the right time. You may well ovulate before the operation to harvest your egg and it may not be possible to retrieve the egg from its follicle. Further, as there is only one egg, an embryo may not form. Even when it does, statistics show that 70% of all embryos (produced by any method) fail. With only one chance, everything has to go right. The cost of a single round of natural cycle IVF is significantly lower than for conventional IVF but as more cycles are required to achieve a pregnancy, the cost per pregnancy can be significantly higher.
Modified Natural Cycle IVF
This process counters some of the risks in natural cycle IVF of not having an egg to collect. It still avoids the use of medications to stimulate the growth of multiple follicles but it does use medications to prevent ovulation early and to ensure that the egg matures at the time of the harvesting operation.
Who should use Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural IVF is suitable for patients who have had adverse reactions to fertility medication and are at risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) – when your ovaries overreact to the medication. As only one egg is produced there is less chance of having twins or triplets, which is a risk to the health of the mother. Natural cycle IVF may also suit older patients with a low ovarian reserve, as indicated by a low Antral Follicle Count, low Anti Mullerian Hormone level or high Follicle Stimulation Hormone level as the body naturally selects the best egg each month to release.
At Concept Fertility most patients choose standard IVF protocols, however there are patients who are suitable for natural cycle IVF, eg: patients at risk of OHSS, patients who do not wish to take medication and patients with regular periods and a low ovarian reserve.
If you wish to arrange a consultation to discuss natural IVF further please call 020 3388 3000 or click here.