Natural cycle in-vitro fertilization involves the collection and fertilization of the one egg released during your normal menstrual cycle. Unlike convention IVF, there are no hormones, hormone analogs, or hormone-stimulating agents used in this treatment. Prior to starting natural cycle IVF, the traditional screening and diagnostic methods for infertility are used to determine whether the infertile patient is a good candidate for IVF.
This treatment option may be a viable option to that you can discuss with your reproductive specialist if your periods are regular and you are ovulating normally, and have the following criteria:
– You are unable to take fertility drugs (e.g., you have been diagnosed with cancer, or at risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which is due to the intake of fertility drugs, leading to severe adverse reactions.
– You do not wish to discard and destroy surplus eggs and embryos, let alone store them due to personal, ethical, moral, or religious implications.
The treatment is the same as conventional IVF, but without the fertility drugs that are used to augment natural egg production and hormones that boost the supply of eggs. Since the ovaries are not artificially stimulated, the rest period that normally follows conventional IVF is not necessary. A key benefit to natural cycle IVF is that if the treatment is unsuccessful, you can try again as soon as the next ovulation, instead of having to wait for several months.
The drawback of natural cycle IVF may be a deal breaker for couples and women dealing with infertility: live birth rates per treatment cycle are lower than with conventional IVF. Because this treatment does not manipulate variables by relying on artificial means, natural individual circumstances dictate the outcome. For example, during a given cycle, an ovum might not be produced, or it might not be collected at the right time, and it might not develop into an embryo once fertilized. There is only one egg produced per cycle, and with so many steps along the way that could result in failure, pregnancy and birth rates are significantly lower.
In 2008, women receiving natural cycle IVF using fresh embryos created by the fertilization of their own eggs had the following birth rates:
• 1 out of 26 for women under 35 years of age;
• 1 out of 21 for women between 35-37 years of age;
• 0 out of 34 for women between 38-39 years of age;
• 1 out of 77 for women between 40-42 years of age;
• 0 out of 25 for women between 43-44 years of age;
• 0 out of 2 for women over 44 years of age.
The risks to health, as well as the incidence of adverse effects as a result of natural cycle IVF are lower than with conventional IVF. Natural cycle IVF avoids the side effects of fertility drugs and you are less likely to have twins or triplets.