There are many infertile couples who are perplexed about whether to opt for natural cycle IVF or standard (also known as stimulated) cycle IVF. In natural cycle IVF, medications are not used to stimulate the female’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The one egg a woman releases during her normal monthly cycle is collected and fertilized. However, other IVF steps are required. Injections to trigger ovulation, surgical egg retrieval and culturing of the embryo in the lab remain part of the natural cycle IVF process.
Some couples favor natural cycle IVF because the cost is lower, and it doesn’t require medication to stimulate the ovaries. However, some studies show that natural cycle IVF is not as successful as standard or stimulated cycle IVF. As a result, some doctors are reluctant to take this route, for example, the doctors with Shady Grove Fertility, a network of fertility clinics in the eastern US. “The physicians at Shady Grove Fertility simply can’t justify putting a patient through IVF treatment with such a low chance of success. Therefore, we urge couples who are interested in natural cycle IVF to learn exactly what it is and compare the variables between different modalities that are truly the most important.”
However, researchers at the University of Southern California’s USC Fertility point out the reasons why natural cycle IVF might be preferred. “For women considered ‘poor responders,’ natural cycle IVF affords the opportunity to continue with the IVF process, even when ovarian stimulation has repetitively failed to produce multiple embryos. For couples with infertility due to male factor (low or poor quality sperm), natural cycle IVF can provide an opportunity for fertilization through ICSI and at the same time avoid multiple pregnancies and unnecessary stimulation for an otherwise fertile female partner.”