Natural Cycle IVF is a real option for women with low egg reserve. It focuses on the naturally selected eggs and works with your body’s natural menstrual cycle.
Natural Cycle IVF involves egg collection aligned with your natural menstrual cycle; there are no stimulation drugs or injections involved. It works in sync with your menstrual cycle to collect the egg naturally selected by your body. During treatment, our specialist doctors use advanced ultrasound technology to monitor your cycle and check the blood supply to the developing follicle to monitor its quality.
Natural Cycle IVF is suitable for every woman who is still ovulating and wants to avoid stimulation IVF drugs or injections.
The conventional high-stimulation IVF approach generally uses drugs to shut the menstrual cycle down (‘downregulation’) before restarting it again, and generally uses high doses of stimulation drugs to develop lots of follicles. Natural Cycle IVF does not shut the cycle down but works with it, and the process is focused on collecting the one follicle naturally selected by the body. In Natural Cycle IVF, no stimulating drugs are used.
In conventional high-stimulation IVF drugs are given in the form of daily injections for up to 21-28 days of daily injections before egg collection. With Pure Natural Cycle IVF there are no stimulation injections, shortening the overall treatment to around 4-6 days.
Eggs that are naturally selected by the body can be of higher quality than those produced in a stimulated IVF cycle. Naturally selected eggs can potentially have fewer abnormalities, while embryos created in conventional IVF can have an increased proportion of chromosomal abnormalities.
Studies have shown that higher doses of stimulation hormones can have a significant physical and emotional burden on patients. Many women considering fertility treatment have seen friends or family going through conventional high-stimulation IVF treatment struggle to cope with some of the side effects.
Potential side effects from the downregulation stage include:
Increased risks from high stimulation stages:
Going through IVF treatment can be a highly emotive and stressful experience. For patients undergoing treatment, it can be physically and emotionally demanding. For partners, it can be difficult to watch a loved one go through a stressful experience. It is important to prioritise your psychological health, and this is also good for the health of your body. Our short, lower-drug protocols can help to minimise the stress you experience throughout the process.
Another known health risk of higher doses of stimulation hormones in women with a high egg reserve through conventional high-stimulation IVF is a potentially dangerous condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), with symptoms that can include:
Mild OHSS can occur in up to 30% of women going through conventional high-stimulation IVF, but the severe form is rare. In contrast, Natural Cycle IVF works with your natural menstrual cycle, with no risk of OHSS.
If you are at high risk of developing an oestrogen-related cancer because of family history, or have endometriosis or other medical conditions (such as melanomas or clotting problems) that could be affected by ovarian stimulation drugs, Natural Cycle IVF may be beneficial to protect your health.
A 2017 study found that there is a reduced risk of babies born through Natural Cycle IVF having a low birth weight and prematurity.
Research has shown that high levels of stimulation can adversely impact embryo implantation.
By avoiding stimulating drugs, the womb is more receptive as there is a healthier womb lining, and therefore more chance of the embryo successfully implanting, leading to a healthy pregnancy.
In conventional high-stimulation IVF, drugs are given in the form of daily injections for up to 28 days. This is to shut down the natural menstrual cycle in order to initiate a temporary ‘menopause’ like situation (also referred to as downregulation or suppression). Following this, additional injections containing higher doses of stimulation hormones are given to stimulate your ovaries to produce a higher number of eggs. In Natural Cycle IVF, the single egg that has been naturally selected and matured by your body is collected. What happens next depends on your treatment, but either the egg is fertilized and either implanted in your womb lining or can be frozen for future use. The choice around this will be made by you and your consultant at the time and depend on your individual situation.
The diagram below is showing the potential difference in injection times, medication dosage, and treatment duration between Natural and conventional high stimulation IVF.