Natural cycle in vitro fertilization
Natural Cycle IVF is in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using either of the following procedures:
- IVF without the use any ovarian hyperstimulation drugs.
- IVF using an ovarian hyperstimulation protocol with a GnRH antagonist for ovulation suppression, generally with gonadotropins as well. This procedure can be called modified natural cycle-IVF (MNC-IVF).
- Frozen embryo transfer; IVF using ovarian hyperstimulation, followed by embryo cryopreservation, followed by embryo transfer in a later, natural, cycle.
The first baby conceived through this method of IVF was Louise Brown, the world's first 'test-tube baby.' However, as the field of infertility medicine progressed the protocol drifted from away from this method and began incorporating the use of fertility drugs to promote greater production of eggs during one cycle. The idea behind this was to increase the number of eggs a woman can produce per cycle, thus increasing their chance of producing an embryo that will result in a live birth. However, as this protocol to use more and more infertility drugs became the conventional IVF that we know today, many physicians began seeing the risks associated with conventional IVF. Dr. Osamu Kato, the founder of the Kato Ladies Clinic, spearheaded the movement to begin a more natural and mild protocols for IVF.
No hyperstimulation drugs
With no hyperstimulation drugs, the treatment cycle relies on the spontaneous development of one follicle only and therefore the aspiration of only one egg from the follicle (it is possible however that the cycle can have more than one egg or no eggs). GnRH anatagonists may still be given for ovulation suppression. In addition the patient will need to take hCG (as with other less invasive treatments such as ovulation monitoring and intrauterine insemination) to time egg collection as well as progesterone pessaries to supplement the body’s progesterone levels. Progesterone aids implantation and supports pregnancy in its early stages.
It can be suitable for women who want to avoid ovarian stimulation or fertility drugs as a matter of choice, and for those for whom there may be no other choice, such as women at risk of hormone-related cancers. There is no suppression of the ovaries and associated menopausal symptoms and the treatment cycle is completed within a woman’s own menstrual cycle.
There are no side-effects such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), bloating, mood changes or other concerns relating to ovarian stimulation. Due to the effect of ovarian stimulation drugs on the body, patients undergoing stimulation cannot pursue consecutive cycles of treatment and need to take 2–3 months break between treatment cycles. In contrast, natural cycle patients can repeat their treatment in consecutive cycles. As only one embryo is transferred in a natural cycle, there is virtually no risk of a multiple pregnancy. Furthermore, ovarian stimulation drugs are expensive and this means that the cost of each cycle is significantly less.
The success rate per cycle is low compared to stimulated IVF. HFEA has estimated the live birth rate to be approximately 1.3% per IVF cycle using no hyperstimulation drugs for women aged between 40–42. There is also a small risk of spontaneous ovulation before egg collection. As a consequence, there is a need for a much larger number of cycles before achieving a live birth on average, in turn resulting in an average cost per live birth that is larger than with conventional IVF.
Natural cycle IVF is not suitable for those who do not ovulate spontaneously.
Mild IVF, sometimes called Soft IVF or IVF Lite, is aimed at producing 2-7 eggs. It does not involve shutting down the hormones for 2 weeks. It is conducted in the woman’s natural menstrual cycle. Smaller dosages of stimulating drugs are given for a shorter period to help ripen the 2-7 eggs. Spontaneous ovulation is blocked with injections so that eggs could be collected. It is safer, less expensive and avoids side-effects associated with suppression of hormones in a conventional IVF cycle. It also reduces the risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
|Natural cycle IVF||Single oocyte||No medication|
|Modified Natural cycle IVF||Single oocyte||hCG only Antagonist & FSH add-back|
|Mild stimulation IVF||2-7 oocytes||Low dose FSH, oral compounds & antagonist/agonist|
|Conventional IVF||≥8 oocytes||Downregulation weak agonist|
- IVF - Natural cycle IVF Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
- Allersma, T.; Farquhar, C.; Cantineau, A. E. (2013). Allersma, Thomas, ed. "Natural cycle in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for subfertile couples". The Cochrane Library. 8: CD010550. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010550.pub2. PMID 23990351.
- Evans, J.; Hannan, N. J.; Edgell, T. A.; Vollenhoven, B. J.; Lutjen, P. J.; Osianlis, T.; Salamonsen, L. A.; Rombauts, L. J. F. (2014). "Fresh versus frozen embryo transfer: backing clinical decisions with scientific and clinical evidence". Human Reproduction Update. 20 (6): 808–821. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmu027. ISSN 1355-4786. PMID 24916455.
- Natural cycle IVF Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine. at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority homepage.
- Verberg MF, Macklon NS, Nargund G, et al. (2009). "Mild ovarian stimulation for IVF". Hum. Reprod. Update. 15: 13–29. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmn056. PMID 19091755.
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- Nargund, Geeta (2008). "Natural-cycle/mild IVF: A science-based and patient-centered approach for the future". Women's Health. 4 (4): 327–8. doi:10.2217/17455057.4.4.327. PMID 19072497.
- Verberg, MF; MacKlon, NS; Nargund, G; Frydman, R; Devroey, P; Broekmans, FJ; Fauser, BC (2009). "Mild ovarian stimulation for IVF". Human Reproduction Update. 15 (1): 13–29. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmn056. PMID 19091755.