Natural Cycle IVF- USC Fertility Pioneers the Procedure
Natural cycle IVF (in vitro fertilization) is very similar to standard in vitro fertilization, but just without the use of large amounts of medications to stimulate the ovary to make multiples eggs.
Natural cycle IVF has recently made a resurgence, gaining worldwide attention as an alternative to conventional IVF for both normal and poor responders. Natural cycle IVF has several advantages over standard IVF, including the elimination of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), very low or no costly and cumbersome gonadotropin injections, lack of production of excess embryos and the elimination of multiple pregnancies.
USC Fertility was one of the first programs to publish its experience with different aspects of natural cycle IVF, and we released our success rates in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1998 and most recently in 2016. In the 1992 study, we found that although the pregnancy rate was one half of that in stimulated cycles, the per embryo implantation rate was higher in natural cycle than in stimulated cycles. Now that the typical IVF pregnancy rate is much higher than the pregnancy rates in 1992, we anticipate the success rates with natural cycle IVF will also be higher.
In order to understand if Natural Cycle IVF is an appropriate choice for you, it is necessary to speak with a fertility specialist here at USC Fertility in a formal consultation. At this time your medical history will be reviewed and the doctor will talk to you about the pros and cons of natural cycle IVF vs. stimulated IVF in your particular situation.
FAQs for Natural Cycle IVF
What is natural cycle IVF?
Natural cycle IVF is in vitro fertilization, but just without the use of large amounts of medications to stimulate the ovary to make multiples eggs. Women do receive daily injections towards the end of the cycle to prevent early ovulation, and during that time small amounts of gonadotropin medication is necessary to support the growth of the egg. Patients are monitored in a natural cycle with ultrasounds and blood work to track the growth of the dominant follicle. An egg retrieval is then performed when the dominant follicle is determined to be an appropriate size. The egg that is retrieved is then fertilized in the laboratory in the same way as traditional IVF. If an embryo is produced and continues to develop, it is transferred back to the uterus, again in the same manner as conventional IVF.
Why should I be interested in natural cycle IVF?
Natural cycle IVF (unstimulated IVF) is an exciting alternative to traditional stimulated IVF cycles. It appeals to patients because it is low risk, has lower costs than stimulated IVF, and is patient-friendly. Natural cycle IVF offers patients 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. Also, natural cycle IVF minimizes the production of excess embryos and eliminates multiple pregnancies.
Is Natural Cycle IVF right for me?
There are three groups of women who are good candidates for natural cycle IVF.
For women considered “poor responders,” natural cycle IVF affords the opportunity to continue with the IVF process, even when ovarian stimulation has repetitively failed to produce multiple embryos. However, natural cycle IVF is not necessarily the recommended treatment for a “poor responder” if multiple ovarian stimulation is still possible.
For couples with infertility due to male factor (low or poor quality sperm), natural cycle IVF can provide an opportunity for fertilization through ICSI and at the same time avoid multiple pregnancies and unnecessary stimulation for an otherwise fertile female partner.
Women who cannot tolerate or do not desire to take hormonal therapy in order to conceive can still benefit from the IVF process.
Is Minimal Stimulation IVF the same as Natural Cycle IVF?
Minimal Stimulation IVF is different from natural cycle IVF in that a small amount of stimulation medication is used for the entire cycle. Minimal stimulation could mean either just oral medications (with no injections at the beginning) or a small amount of injections from the beginning of stimulation. It involves more drugs than natural cycle IVF but not a not as much as a full stimulated IVF cycle. Minimal stimulation represents another alternative for patients.