Deciding which type of fertility treatment is right for you can be a complex process and may require a thorough consideration of various medical, personal and financial factors. There are numerous infertile couples who cannot decide whether they should go for a natural cycle IVF or a standard or stimulated cycle IVF. It is important to learn everything about all these methods so that you can make a well-informed decision.
The debate between natural cycle IVF Vs standard cycle IVF has been an ongoing one. Let’s take a closer look at the various methods in which they work.
Difference between natural cycle IVF and standard cycle IVF
During the monthly reproductive cycle, an egg grows inside the ovarian follicle. This egg gets matured and is released when the hormone levels reach a particular point. The egg then becomes ready to be fertilized. In case of a stimulated IVF cycle, the woman takes medications that stimulate the ovaries for about 9- 12 days. This hastens the growth of the ovaries and helps in the maturation of multiple egg follicles. In this stimulation phase, the physician monitors the patient with blood work and ultrasounds to track the growth of the follicles until they reach a particular size.
The physician then retrieves the eggs from the follicles, while the patient is under anesthesia. These are fertilized in a lab, where all the embryos are grown until the embryologist can decide on the best ones to be transferred back into the uterus. The high-quality embryos which are not transferred are commonly frozen, to be used in the future.
As no medications are used for stimulating the ovaries in case of natural cycle IVF, it usually produces only a single mature egg at any given time. The doctors carry out blood work and ultrasounds to track the development of a single ovarian follicle, to make sure that it gets ovulated before its retrieval.
Following this, the patient undergoes the same kind of egg retrieval process performed in stimulated IVF cycle for retrieving the egg from a single follicle. In case the egg retrieval becomes successful, the doctors try to fertilize this egg in the laboratory. Once a viable embryo is developed, the physician transfers it back into the uterus.
The effectiveness of natural cycle IVF
In natural cycle IVF, no medications are used for stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Moreover, since this procedure does not use ovary-stimulating medications, it is much less stressful for a woman who finds it harder to cope with the emotional challenges of pregnancy. Many couples also favor the natural cycle IVF as the cost of it is much lower.
Natural cycle IVF also works well for women who are considered to be ‘poor responders,’ as it offers the opportunity to carry on with IVF procedure even when the ovarian stimulation has repeatedly failed to come up with multiple embryos. Additionally, the natural cycle IVF also provides an opportunity for successful fertilization through ICSI because of a male factor. Therefore, it can be said that the natural cycle IVF success rate is much higher than the stimulated cycle IVF.