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IVF without Fertility Drugs

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Natural cycle IVF mimics a regular IVF cycle, with one important exception: fertility drugs are not used to stimulate the ovaries. Instead, natural follicle development is monitored carefully and only Lupron or hCG is used to encourage the egg to final maturation.

According to Dr. Frank Yelian, Director of Life IVF Center in Irvine, CA, natural cycle IVF is a good option for the following three groups of fertility patients:

  1. Women under the age of 38 who would be able to conceive naturally if they didn’t have tubal issues. This would include blocked fallopian tubes, history of ectopic pregnancy, or women who have had a tubal ligation.
  2. Women older than age 42, and up to age 45 with diminished ovarian reserve, FSH upwards of 15 to 20 and poor responders. For these women, fertility drugs generally don’t work, and egg quality diminishes when they are treated high levels of fertility drugs.
  3. Women with a history of cancer. This patient population generally prefers an organic, natural approach with no medication.

Despite good success rates with Natural Cycle IVF, Yelian says it is not widely available for the following reasons:

  1. Natural Cycle IVF requires a lot of skill in the timing of egg retrieval. Fellowship training does not include Natural Cycle IVF.
  2. Natural Cycle IVF is time consuming for the physician. The IVF schedule is tailored to each patient and requires a seven day a week commitment on behalf of the fertility doctor and clinic staff.
  3. Natural Cycle IVF demands a high level of skill of the embryologist. Because only one egg is produced, the embryologist only has one chance for fertilization.

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