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Natural Cycle IVF - The New Trend In The IVF Space

Sep 01, 2017

What is Natural Cycle IVF?

In Natural Cycle IVF, the one egg you release during your normal monthly cycle is collected and fertilized. No fertility drugs are used in this treatment. Louise Brown, the first IVF baby born in 1978 was with the technique of Natural Cycle IVF.

The aim is to collect the one egg that has been naturally selected by the body. It is commonly agreed that a naturally selected egg is of the best quality. Thus by utilizing natural selection in this way, we hope to be able to collect a high quality egg and therefore increase the chances of a high quality embryo being created.


Who can opt for Natural Cycle IVF?

• All women who ovulate can go for Natural Cycle IVF.

• It is also often chosen by those that want to live a drug-free lifestyle and avoid fertility drugs and their associated risks and side-effects.

• Women who are unable to take fertility drugs like patients with a history of a hormone-sensitive cancer or a strong family history of cancer.

• Those at risk of OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) i.e., a dangerous over-reaction to fertility drugs.

• Couples with personal, moral or religious beliefs who do not wish to have surplus eggs or embryos destroyed or stored.

• It is particularly suitable for older women, those who have not had success with conventional IVF, those with low ovarian reserve or those who respond poorly to fertility drugs. They are usually less likely to produce multiple eggs even if high doses of fertility medication are used. Natural Cycle IVF gives them the opportunity to have a child with their own eggs, rather than donor eggs.

• Young patients with only a history of tubal disease or male factor infertility would especially benefit from it.


How does Natural Cycle IVF work?

The treatment is the same as conventional IVF, but without the fertility drugs that are used to grow multiple egg containing follicles.

At the first consultation, we will assess your situation and devise a personalized treatment plan. You will then be requested to call up on the first day of your period in order to book your first scan. This will be scheduled for the second or third day of your cycle. You will need 3-4 scans during the first 10-14 days of your cycle. The egg collection is usually performed on around day 13. This is carried out under a short acting anaesthetic and is followed by the embryo transfer a few days later.


What is my chance of having a baby with Natural Cycle IVF?

Live birth rates are lower per treatment cycle than with conventional IVF. Because this treatment does not rely on any artificial aids, much depends on your individual circumstances.


What are the advantages of Natural Cycle IVF?

• Natural Cycle IVF results in a much shorter and safer procedure. Since only one or two eggs are collected, the procedure time is very short. In addition, only a very short anesthesia is used for egg collection. Therefore, the anaesthetic risks are minimized too. Patients recover soon after the procedure.

• It reduces the chances of side effects or complications resulting from fertility drugs, such as Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

• Multiple gestations are prevented because usually only one egg is retrieved and the single resulting embryo is transferred. The risk of multiple pregnancies is less than 1%.

• Natural Cycle IVF is much more affordable than conventional IVF. Since it is a drug-free procedure, the expenditure on medication is spared.

• More importantly, Natural Cycle IVF completely eliminates the stress and discomfort of daily injections required for conventional IVF.

• It requires much less frequent monitoring. Most patients only need three to four visits during Natural Cycle IVF, compared to six to seven with conventional IVF.

• Natural Cycle IVF can be done for any woman who wants to use her own eggs and is still ovulating. Many women with a poor hormonal profile, low ovarian reserve or poor response to fertility drugs are recommended treatment with donor egg instead of conventional IVF with their own eggs. In this scenario, instead of using donor eggs, the woman can opt for Natural Cycle IVF, giving her the best chance of having a baby with her own egg.

• In Natural Cycle IVF the retrieved egg is the one which is naturally selected by the body, hence considered of a higher quality.

• Natural Cycle IVF can be repeated in consecutive cycles to collect multiple eggs and freeze all embryos for future frozen embryo transfers. There is no need to take 2 months’ break in between 2 cycles, like in conventional IVF.


What are the risks/limitations of Natural Cycle IVF?

• The risks with natural cycle IVF are lower than those with conventional IVF.

• Natural Cycle IVF avoids the side effects of fertility drugs like Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

• The risk of twins or triplets is lesser. Multiple gestations are prevented because usually only one egg is retrieved and the single resulting embryo is transferred.

• Usually only one dominant follicle develops in Natural Cycle IVF. So the egg collection may not yield any egg or the egg may not develop into a healthy embryo.

• As usually only one egg is collected, we do not have the luxury of extra embryos to choose from for transfer or storing extra embryos by freezing. However, if a patient wishes to have multiple embryos stored, we can freeze the embryos from the first few cycles of egg collection before we start embryo transfer.

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