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Should You Take a Break Between IVF Cycles?

April 11, 2013

A new study published in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s journal Fertility and Sterility says that time between in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles, whether one month or a few months, might not significantly impact your chance at success.

To date, there is little data to suggest an ideal time frame between cycles. Only one study has actually looked at consecutive IVF cycles versus “alternating” cycles, and there was no evidence to suggest that consecutive cycling was detrimental to the outcome of ovarian stimulation or pregnancy rate. Despite the fact that several studies have sought to examine the differences between consecutive or delayed start of a cycle, it has been difficult to capture accurate data since failed cycle protocols are often modified, in terms of fertility drugs used and length of stimulation time, before moving forward.

The current study is a case review of 9,167 IVF patients from January 1, 2002, to November 1, 2011. Each of these patients underwent two GnRH antagonist protocol cycles (using ovarian stimulation drugs like Follistim, Gonal-F, or Menopur and antagonist drugs like Ganirelix, Cetrotide, or Organon) with no modifications to the protocol between cycles. Researchers compared data of patients who waited one full menstrual cycle before completing an IVF cycle versus those who waited two or more menstrual cycles, but not long enough to cause concern for ovarian aging or age-related ovarian reserve issues.

A group of 164 cycle pairs were considered the “one menstrual cycle” group and 557 cycle pairs were classified as the “two or more cycle” group. Implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth rates were not statistically different between the two groups, suggesting that taking one or a few months between IVF cycles does not negatively impact the outcome of the cycle.

Fertility patients should understand that time is of the essence when it comes to fertility treatment, however, taking a short period of time to emotionally and physically recharge from the stress of infertility will not reduce their chance of successfully conceiving in a subsequent IVF cycle.


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