Authors: Lisa Holliman
Updated: 03/06/2021 | Originally published on 03/06/2021
If you're experiencing infertility, you've likely heard of many treatments that can help you get pregnant. One of the treatments you may have heard of is natural IVF.
Natural IVF is an alternative to conventional/ standard IVF, which uses medicines to stimulate follicular growth. You may be wondering just what natural IVF entails and if it's a good option for you. Read on to learn more.
Natural IVF is an infertility treatment that uses in-vitro fertilization to help you get pregnant but doesn't involve the use of hormones to stimulate follicle growth.
The conventional high-stimulation IVF approach generally uses drugs to shut the menstrual cycle down (‘downregulation’) before restarting it again, and generally uses high doses of stimulation drugs to develop lots of follicles. Natural Cycle IVF does not shut the cycle down but works with it, and the process is focused on collecting the one follicle naturally selected by the body. In Natural Cycle IVF, no stimulating drugs are used.
Said Professor Geeta Nargund of CREATE Fertility.
The process begins with monitoring your cycle to track follicular development. Once your follicles have reached the appropriate size, an egg is retrieved in the same manner as a typical IVF cycle.
The egg is fertilized and monitored. If the embryo shows normal division and growth, it will be implanted into your uterus. You'll then do the usual two-week wait and then undergo a pregnancy test and bloodwork to see if the implantation was successful.
The main differences between natural cycle IVF and stimulated IVF occur early in the process.
With stimulated IVF, you start the process by taking several types of medications. These medications stimulate your ovaries and cause them to make multiple eggs.
Natural IVF doesn't involve any medication to stimulate the ovaries.
The two processes are the same after the follicle matures. Both follow the same cycle of egg retrieval, fertilization, and implantation. One isn't inherently better than the other. The choice will depend on your situation and what your body needs to achieve pregnancy.
There are a few cases where natural IVF is the better option than stimulated IVF.
If your infertility is caused by male factors, the natural IVF makes a lot of sense. If you're ovulating and producing eggs normally, there's no reason to go through stimulation. In your situation, the fertilization stage is the critical step.
You may have already gone through a round or more of stimulated IVF and was labeled a poor responder. This term means that your body doesn't respond to ovarian stimulation. In this case, you may be a good candidate for natural IVF.
Additionally, you may have a condition that prevents you from taking hormonal stimulation medication. Natural IVF may be the only way you can undergo an IVF cycle.
Natural IVF does have a much lower success rate than stimulated IVF.
There's more going on with these numbers, though. These statistics aren't a direct comparison and there are many more factors to consider read more in Why does IVF Fails.
For one, stimulated IVF is much more common that natural IVF. Thus, there's a much larger sample size when it comes to statistics. Since many natural IVF cycles don't run the full course, the statistics are not exactly accurate. It's difficult to know the exact statistics, and success rates may be higher than the numbers actually show.
There are many benefits to using natural IVF.
Natural IVF can be a good choice for people who are looking for an alternative to stimulated IVF. It involves fewer medications and is much more affordable.
Natural IVF reduces the toll on your body during the IVF process and reduces the risk of multiples. Many couples, especially those with male factory infertility, find success with natural IVF, and it can be a better way to finally have your baby.