A diagnosis of infertility often leads to a lot of confusion. There are many options to grow your family depending on the cause of your infertility. The process of deciding on the right one for you involves discussing best options with your physician based on your diagnosis and determining your right path for success.
Many couples find IVF to be the surest way to a successful outcome. There are two specific methods for you to consider. The first one, conventional IVF, is also known as stimulated or conventional IVF, and utilizes fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs at one time. Most people think of the conventional method when they consider IVF.
The second, and somewhat lesser-known method is natural IVF, or natural cycle IVF. It’s based solely on your body’s natural ability to produce an egg for fertilization with a minimal amount of medication. Natural IVF synchs with your own cycle so that your body produces one (rarely two) naturally matured egg. Conventional IVF harvests multiple eggs by stimulating your ovaries.
Knowing the differences and how these two methods of treating your infertility work will help you and your fertility team make an informed decision that’s right for you. We will take a look at the two methods of IVF and provide a comparison.
Natural Cycle IVF
What is it? Natural IVF is a treatment for infertility that does not involve injecting fertility medications necessary to harvest multiple eggs. The medication called the “trigger shot” is injected towards the end of the natural cycle in order to time ovulation to harvest the egg.
The fertility team monitors the patient closely to follow their ovulation cycle. Bloodwork and ultrasound help track the progress of ovulation. The fertility team retrieves the egg when ovulation is imminent. Fertilization occurs in the same manner as conventional IVF. A viable embryo develops and the physician implants it into the patient’s uterus, also just as with conventional IVF.
Who does it help? Natural IVF is a great option for those women who have personal reasons for not creating multiple embryos. This method of in vitro fertilization works well for women who can’t tolerate hormonal therapy. Natural IVF is a sound option for couples with mild male factor infertility and for those women who are either very young and have excellent egg quality or those in the advanced reproductive years with extremely low egg reserve.
- Natural IVF reduces the side effects of hormonal injections and ovarian stimulation drugs. Unpleasant side effects include mood swings, headaches, hot flashes and insomnia. Going the natural route also reduces the risk of OHSS, a very rare, but dangerous condition that can impact the health of your ovaries.
- There is reduced risk of multiple embryos when you use natural IVF. Pregnancy with multiples carries several risks. There is an increased chance of preterm labor, and premature birth with multiple embryos and this type of pregnancy poses a threat to the health of both mothers and babies. Natural IVF almost eliminates the possibility of pregnancy with multiples (except in the rare occasion when the embryo splits which results in identical twins) as the majority of the time the result is just one healthy, mature egg and one embryo that results in a singleton pregnancy.
- It is a much shorter process. The natural cycle requires less prep time leading up to egg retrieval. There are fewer appointments with your fertility specialist because natural IVF requires less monitoring.
- Natural IVF carries a possibility of premature ovulation, which can cause a missed opportunity to retrieve the mature egg. When this happens, you need to wait until the next cycle to continue with IVF.
- Your one egg may not yield a viable embryo because you’re working with only one egg.
- Natural IVF does not afford the opportunity to select gender or do genetic testing in general because most of the time the embryo is transferred back 3-5 days after the egg retrieval.
What is it? Conventional IVF uses fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The general idea with conventional IVF is that the more eggs produced the greater the odds for a healthy embryo. The doctor uses light sedation to harvest the eggs. Harvested eggs go to the lab for fertilization.
Who does it help? The short answer is all infertility cases. Women who are in very good health and are under the age of 42 are excellent candidates for conventional IVF. Those couples who wish to produce extra embryos benefit from conventional IVF method. Patients with irregular cycles may have a higher success of conception with stimulated IVF.
- Conventional IVF has a long-proven track record and a very good rate of success, depending on age and reason for infertility.
- Multiple eggs provide an opportunity for more than one viable embryo to develop. This allows for gender selection.
- Stored embryos are available for future use.
- Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) screens embryos to eliminate the risk for genetic or chromosomal birth defect.
- Response to the fertility drugs may be unpleasant with some side effects. Your side effects may include swelling of the ovaries which can result in OHSS. Most cases are mild and temporarily painful, but some cases can be life-threatening.
- Conventional IVF carries a higher risk of pregnancy with multiple embryos. At LA IVF, doctors transfer only one embryo at a time, thus almost eliminating the risks associated with multiples. There is always the risk of having identical twins in the event that the embryo splits, but this is a very rare issue.
- The conventional method of IVF is time consuming. You will require monitoring closely throughout your cycle. There are several office visits involved and commitment to the injections.
- Egg retrieval can yield multiple eggs and this can cause distention of the ovaries significantly. Patient s may feel distended for the week following the egg retrieval which eventually will resolve.
Natural IVF Compared to Conventional IVF
Ultimately you and your physician will determine your best opportunity for a healthy and successful pregnancy. To find out your best option and if you are a candidate for natural IVF contact LA IVF for a consultation.