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Is Natural Cycle IVF For You?

Like standard in vitro fertilization (IVF), natural cycle IVF can help women with a variety of fertility challenges, including blocked or damaged fallopian tubes and endometriosis. It is also considered a smart choice for women who can’t tolerate the side effects of fertility drugs administered with traditional IVF. With natural cycle IVF, there are no drugs, except for the mild sedation used to retrieve the egg.

Who's a Candidate?

Most experts recommend this approach for women aged 35 or under, since they tend to have a large supply of healthy eggs. Some doctors, however, will also suggest natural cycle IVF for women older than 35 who have already been through several unsuccessful standard IVF procedures and/or have fragile ovaries, or for any patient who doesn’t produce a lot of eggs on fertility drugs.

The procedure is, of course, dependent on one follicle ripening and producing a single egg for conception. The technology of retrieving the egg, however, has improved to the point where one egg has a reasonable (about 15 percent) chance of success.

The Advantages

Compared to traditional IVF, natural cycle IVF is less stressful, both emotionally and physically. This method is also potentially less time consuming. Unlike standard IVF, in which breaks are recommended between cycles, natural cycle IVF treatments can be repeated month after month. Natural cycle IVF is appealing for its affordability, too. Treatments run about 25 percent less than stimulated IVF and there are no hospital stays.

There are other advantages, too. Since natural cycle IVF is a drug-free procedure, there is zero increased chance of a multiple pregnancy or of ovarian hyper-stimulation—a syndrome sometimes caused by fertility medicines in which ovaries become enlarged, causing bloating and nausea, among other side effects. And with no medication involved, a patient can rest assured that there is no risk of unknown long-term health effects.

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