In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a common approach for individuals dealing with fertility issues. There are multiple forms of IVF, including conventional IVF and natural cycle IVF. Both involve the fertilization of an egg in the laboratory before insertion into the uterus. Understanding the success rate of natural cycle IVF can help you make the most informed choice the fertility treatment that maximizes the likelihood that you will get pregnant.
What Is Natural Cycle IVF?
Conventional IVF involves the administration of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce excess eggs. Multiple eggs are typically harvested, and the healthiest are chosen to undergo in vitro fertilization. Once fertilized, one or more embryos will be placed in the uterus for the pregnancy to continue.
Natural cycle IVF follows a similar approach to conventional IVF, except that fertility drugs are not administered. Rather, a fertility doctor will track your natural cycle. Following ovulation, an egg will be retrieved and fertilized in a laboratory. That fertilized egg will then be implanted.
Advantages of Natural Cycle IVF over Conventional IVF
There are pros and cons to conventional IVF and natural cycle IVF. Some of the advantages of natural cycle IVF include:
No need to take fertility drugs. Some women find the drugs used to overstimulate ovarian egg production to be difficult to tolerate. With natural cycle IVF, there is no need to receive daily injections and the frequent monitoring that is used in conventional IVF.
No concern about multiple embryos. Conventional IVF may result in multiple fertilized eggs being created in the laboratory, creating a quandary for some couples. If the patient does not wish to discard the embryos, storage costs can be expensive. Alternatively, implantation of multiple embryos may lead to a multiple pregnancy, which can be riskier.
Lower cost. Because natural cycle IVF avoids the fertility drug administration required by conventional IVF, it is less expensive. The most cost effective nature of natural cycle IVF makes it an attractive alternative for some individuals.
How Successful is Natural Cycle IVF?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collect statistics about the success rates of IVF, but unfortunately they do not separate conventional and natural cycle IVF statistics. Natural cycle IVF does have a lower success rate than conventional IVF. This is because IVF is a “numbers game” in many ways. The more eggs that are harvested and fertilized, the greater chance of pregnancy success. However, many women find natural cycle IVF to be better tolerated and a very positive experience in their fertility journey.
Before making a decision about IVF, talk to your fertility doctor about success rates at your clinic. As exact protocols may vary from clinic to clinic, it’s best to get up-to-date statistics from your clinic to learn what you should expect from natural cycle IVF.