Is natural cycle IVF successful?

6 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Raúl Olivares, MD

Gynaecologist, Medical Director & Owner
Barcelona IVF

Natural IVF is successful but is not that successful. In our opinion, that’s something that should be limited to very specific cases, and unfortunately, the majority of natural IVF is done in cases in which the results are very poor. The first risk is that the chances of not getting an egg after a natural IVF are very high. Some groups describe up to 50% of their collections in which they don’t get eggs, or the eggs are not of good quality. We’re just working with one egg, you can go through different cycles and try to collect 5 or 6 eggs in 5 or 6 months without using any hormones, but once more, I can’t see the point because the eggs are not going to be of better quality compared to those that you can get in stimulation, and you need to keep in mind that the time goes on. In cases in which you invest 6-8 months, especially when you are over 40, the quality of the eggs that you can get in your 6th or 7th cycle can be really worse than the ones that you get in your first attempt.

Therefore, in my opinion, the natural cycle is only useful in young girls who do not respond to a standard stimulation. Giving them drugs is going to be a waste of time and money because in these cases, especially patients under 37-38, the quality of the egg and the chances of getting that egg can be good. They have time to invest, to go through different rounds.

A lot of studies confirm that the number of eggs that you collected are directly related to the accumulated success rate of the cycle, and then patients, for example, that produce over 15 eggs have up to six times higher chances of having a baby than those that produce 3 eggs.

In my opinion, there is no contraindication to try to stimulate the patients and try to get as many eggs. The more eggs we get, the more embryos we’re going to have, the higher the chances of that patient ending up with a baby.

Answer from: Valentina Denisova, MD PhD Obstetrician Gynaecologist

Gynaecologist, Fertility Specialist
Next Generation Clinic

Many patients worry about viral stimulation and try to avoid it, and they ask about natural cycle IVF. I always reply to these patients; that each procedure has its own indications, especially when we realize that the efficacy of a procedure is not optimal. We can use natural cycle IVF when a person has contraindications for ovarian stimulation; we have a special group of such patients. When the number of follicles that are in the ovaries is too small to provide ovarian stimulation, or we have advanced age patients or patients with premature ovarian failure or insufficiency, we can use natural cycle IVF. How does it work? We start ultrasound monitoring of the follicle growth and then the follicle reaches, comparing the ovulatory size, we prescribe trigger for oocyte maturation and then try to pick up this oocyte. And if our ovarian function was successful, and we retrieved mature oocytes, we can fertilize it or freeze it. This will depend on each situation. Why is this procedure not very effective? Follicles might not grow up during each cycle, they can ruptured sharply, oocytes can be immature, or they can be bad in quality so they might not be fertilized sometimes. And finally, embryos can develop differently and some of them can stop in development so we might not have any embryo transfer. So that’s why natural cycle IVF has much lower efficiency than conventional IVF

Answer from: Guillermo Quea Campos

Gynaecologist, Specialist in Reproductive Medicine
Pronatal Fertility Clinics
Yes, the natural cycle is successful and is indicated especially for those women who want to avoid ovarian stimulation for different reasons, for example cancer or thrombosis. Also for those women who don’t want to vitrify embryos or in those women who had a good reproductive prognosis with a good ovarian reserve and oocyte quality. For those reasons the percentage of patients undergoing a natural cycle is very small.

Answer from: Tomas Frgala, PhD

Gynaecologist, Head Physician at UNICA Clinic - Brno
Unica Clinics – Prague and Brno

the attractive part for the patient is that all the hormones and their workings are quite natural -there are no additional hormones (maybe except for that one trigger shot, that trigger injection). Sometimes there’s a luteal support after the oocyte pickup. Also progesterone is applied but these are various modifications of the protocol. The downside of course is having just one egg so if that egg is not ripe, not healthy or the embryo doesn’t develop perfectly then, we need to repeat the cycle over and over and over again and it can be quite a lengthy and stressful process.

Answer from: Harry Karpouzis, MD, MRCOG, DIUE

Gynaecologist, Founder & Scientific Director
Pelargos IVF Medical Group

A variation of IVF is natural IVF. When we say natural IVF, we mean IVF in a natural cycle, which means that we monitor the development of a follicle, and when the follicle is ready, we trigger ovulation, and we usually collect one egg. The chances of success as a general rule in a natural IVF are lower than in a medicated IVF.

Does it make sense to do it? Yes, it does. Usually, of course, natural IVF plays a role when a person cannot take injections, medication to stimulate the ovaries for medical reasons. Sometimes a semi-natural IVF, which means that you just take some pills that provoke ovulation can be used in women with a very poor ovarian reserve. As a general rule in IVF, you cannot get more eggs than the number of follicles that you see on the second day of the cycle on the initial ultrasound.

Let’s say that a woman has got a very poor ovarian reserve and has got only one or two follicles. In this case, there is no point in paying for medication because even if a woman takes a very high dose of medication and pays for all this medication, she will not be able to get more than one or two eggs. So in cases like that, natural cycle or repeated natural cycles makes sense. You can slowly start collecting one egg or two eggs at the time with double stimulation, so IVF that is taking place one after the other until the end you may get several eggs that you wouldn’t be able to get if you had more medication in one IVF.

Natural IVF does make sense. First, it reduces and makes the chances of hyperstimulation zero, but in specifically selected cases, it may even have a benefit. It is not though a common thing that we would do for any case. In general, the chances of success with natural IVF in comparison to a medicated IVF in a woman that has a lot of follicles are higher when we talk about medicated IVF.

Answer from: Evangelos Sakkas, MD, MsC

Gynaecologist, Head of Gyncare IVF Clinic
Gyncare IVF Clinic

Natural cycle IVF is something very very common.
Let’s say that in recent years in our Center many women go for our natural IVF cycle and the reasons are many.
Scientifically the only real, the only true reason in order to do a natural IVF cycle is when a woman has already done a normal IVF so stimulation with really no result which means one to two oocytes.
In that case, of course, if stimulating the ovaries gives you only oocytes it’s not worth continuing this protocol so you shift to a natural cycle.
Another case but much less frequent is when the patient had a cancer in her life, a hormone dependent cancer or some autoimmune severe diseases which exclude an IVF stimulation. In these cases we also go for a natural cycle.
Of course it cannot have the same success rate of IVF protocol stimulation. We would say that it’s one-third of a normal IVF protocol. One woman should not do it only once, one woman who opts and wants to go for a natural cycle should do natural cycles every month in order to arrive at a good blastocyst and then try to transfer at least two or three blasters according to her age. Of course there is a good thing in a natural IVF which means that she doesn’t take any medication which means that nature selects the oocyte which means that she doesn’t spend so much money but she should be aware that there are many risks also in a natural cycle which means that we could lose the egg that somehow happens very often, the follicle could be empty or very often we take the oocyte and the oocyte cannot be fertilize.
This standard gives us low chances of success rates, low chances of being pregnant but it’s an option. I am repeating women who had an IVF protocol without any result or in some rare cases of cancer or autoimmune diseases.

About this question:

What is the average number of patients who succeed with natural IVF cycle?

The natural cycle is almost the same as stimulated IVF but without using medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. What are the pros and cons of natural cycle IVF? Is the IVF cycle without stimulation something to consider? What may patients think about such a solution?

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