The Good and Bad of In Vitro Fertilization
For couples working through the difficulties of infertility, IVF can be both good and bad at the same time. IVF has helped couples all around the world get pregnant and start a family.
However, IVF comes with a multitude of drugs and medications that need to be taken almost daily. Most of these drugs come with some type of side effect and change in the body’s hormone levels.
These IVF drugs are not only expensive; they’re hard on you physically and mentally. For this reason, more and more women and fertility specialists are turning to something called Natural Cycle IVF (NCIVF) when it comes to IVF treatment.
NCIVF uses one egg produced from a woman’s natural menstrual cycle for treatment rather than using medication to trigger the ovaries into producing multiple eggs.
IVF without Drugs?
For many years there has been a high demand for IVF treatment that doesn’t use medication for ovarian stimulation. Natural cycle IVF gives women this option.
The goal behind NCIVF is conception with as minimal drug and medical intervention as possible. With NCIVF the risk of multiple pregnancies is eliminated which further reduces risk during pregnancy.
Natural cycle IVF is a holistic method to IVF, one that many women find much less invasive than conventional IVF.
The main advantages of natural cycle IVF include:
- No fertility drugs are used resulting in less unpleasant side effects.
- No hospital stay is needed.
- There is little chance of multiple pregnancies of occurring.
- Costs are much less than conventional IVF treatments.
Natural cycle IVF is used most often by women who are looking for a natural approach to conception based on health and ethical values. As well, women who are unable to tolerate fertility drugs may opt for NCIVF.
For instance, women who have cancer may be at risk for OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation), a reaction to fertility drugs.
One of the big advantages of using natural cycle IVF is that if you don’t become pregnant after one cycle treatment it’s safe for NCIVF to be performed on consecutive menstrual cycles.
This is because your body has not had to undergo extensive hormone drug therapy to stimulate the ovaries.
The Workings of Natural Cycle IVF
Being treated with natural cycle IVF is much the same as conventional IVF treatment. The only difference is that fertility medications won’t be used to trigger ovulation and increase egg production.
In NCIVF the one egg that is released during your monthly cycle is released and fertilized just as it would naturally. The optimum time for egg retrieval is about 4 to 6 hours before you ovulate.
This means that you need to be closely monitoring your menstrual cycle using an ovulation predictor kit. Once ovulation is evident your fertility specialist will retrieve the egg through a tiny incision in your abdomen.
This procedure is typically done along with an ultrasound. The egg will then be fertilized either with your partner’s sperm or using sperm from a donor.
The fertilized egg will be incubated for about 5 days before the embryo is transferred to your uterus. Both egg retrieval and egg implantation into the uterus are performed as an in-office procedure.
In about two weeks you’ll be given a pregnancy test to see if treatment has been a success. It’s important to know that the natural cycle IVF is not possible for all women.
If you have an irregular menstrual cycle it may be difficult or impossible for you to use this treatment as timing ovulation is crucial to success.
Are there Disadvantages to NCIVF?
The biggest disadvantage of using natural cycle IVF is that the exact time of ovulation can sometimes be hard to predict. If you ovulate too soon it can be difficult to retrieve the egg.
This makes NCIVF less reliable for egg retrieval than conventional IVF. Some fertility specialists choose not to offer NCIVF because they feel that the unreliability of egg retrieval can lead to many more treatment cycles than conventional IVF.
They choose to use fertility drugs and trigger ovulation to optimize the chance of pregnancy with more eggs. The good news is that once the egg has been retrieved and fertilized the success rate for natural cycle IVF is much the same as for traditional IVF.
Is NCIVF for You?
Natural cycle IVF isn’t for everyone. Most fertility clinics that offer this treatment have a higher success rate in women under the age of 35. This is because younger women usually have more regular menstrual cycles that are more easily tracked for the precise timing of ovulation.
If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant and are considering using in vitro fertilization, talk to your specialist about the possibility of using NCIVF. No matter what type of IVF treatment you use it’s important that for the best results you stay healthy both physically and mentally.
The objective is to become pregnant using as few IVF cycles of treatment as possible.