Is natural IVF right for me?

The first baby born following IVF treatment was achieved in 1978 during a Natural cycle following many previous failed attempts. Since then the biomedical technology has advanced and IVF treatment with ovarian stimulation has become the mainstream.

However, as we are gaining more insight into the effects of drug stimulation and with many women increasingly trying for a pregnancy later in the life, often trying for a baby in their 40's, there is now a resurgent interest in natural cycle IVF or mild stimulation IVF.

Natural cycle or mild stimulation IVF cannot be considered as a first line treatment for all couples, but the indications and advantages are constantly growing.

Couples who might benefit from natural or mild IVF cycles include:

  • Women with low ovarian reserve (based on hormone results FSH, AMH etc) or women who have responded poorly to previous IVF cycles with standard ovarian stimulation (sometimes called "poor responders"). For these women even though natural cycle IVF will not have a high success rate, it can be the only option before treatment with oocyte donation
  • Women with extremely high risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) or women who have previously been hospitalised due to OHSS
  • Women with a contradiction to IVF drug stimulation either due to a history of cancer, medical history or an allergic reaction to medications

Advantages of natural cycle IVF or mild stimulation could include:

  • Low cost per cycle, as you will use no or very few medications. The IVF cycle itself is also cheaper
  • The short and long term side effects from drugs are minimised
  • Treatment can be repeated every month without waiting for 2-3 months as is the usual practice for stimulated cycles
  • The risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is practically eliminated
  • There is some evidence suggesting that stimulating the ovaries could have a negative impact on the endometrium affecting success rates
  • There is some evidence suggesting that the embryos produced during a natural cycle or mild stimulation IVF are more likely to be genetically normal (i.e. have normal chromosomes) and therefore more likely to result in an ongoing pregnancy

As mentioned earlier though, Natural Cycle IVF is not for everyone and does have disadvantages:

  • Lower success rate when compared directly with stimulated IVF
  • In only 50-70% of cycles an embryo will be available to be transferred to the womb
  • There are usually no surplus embryos to cryopreserve

If you think that natural IVF or mild stimulation might be right for you, please contact us to find out whether you would be suitable.