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A Guide to Natural, Modified and Mild IVF

In my work and medical research, I've seen an increase in the number of women actively seeking out Natural or Mild approaches as their first choice for IVF treatment.

However, for women who are having difficulty in conceiving, awareness about different fertility treatments and IVF options remains far too low.

It's important to know that there are IVF treatment options out there that not only use lower doses of drugs and are therefore not only better for women undergoing IVF, but are also more affordable per cycle. When it comes to choosing your treatment, a little bit of knowledge as to the various options can go a long way in protecting your health and reducing the cost of treatment. Here is my guide to three of the gentler and safer IVF options available.

Natural Cycle IVF

The aim in Natural Cycle IVF is to collect the one egg that has been naturally selected by the body without the use of fertility drugs. By using the high quality egg produced that month this in turn increase the chances of creating a high quality embryo.

Natural IVF is a suitable treatment option for the following groups of women:
Bullet  Women who have been diagnosed with low AMH, high FSH, low ovarian reserve or those who respond poorly to the drugs given during fertility treatment
Bullet  Those who want to avoid fertility drugs and their side effects

Natural Cycle IVF success rates are better than ever before following improvements in techniques and a better understanding of physiology. Studies have also shown that babies born as a result of this method are of a healthier birth weight and are more likely to be born at full term.

Modified Natural Cycle IVF

A form of Natural IVF, Modified Natural Cycle IVF uses low doses of fertility medication for 3-4 days in order to block spontaneous ovulation. A small dose of stimulation hormone is then given in order to keep the follicle healthy and growing. As with Natural Cycle IVF, the focus is to collect the naturally selected egg, though sometimes more than one egg is collected.

This method has the same benefits as Natural Cycle IVF, but an improved success rate, and can also have a higher rate of success for older women than traditional forms of IVF.

A wide variety of women can be treated with Modified Natural Cycle IVF, including:
Bullet  Women who do not respond well to conventional IVF stimulation
Bullet  Couples/women who have had implantation failure during conventional IVF
Bullet  Those with low ovarian reserve, low AMH or high FSH
Bullet  Those who have a family history of oestrogen dependent tumours or ovarian cancer and want to avoid the high doses of drugs given in conventional IVF

Mild Stimulation IVF

Also carried out during the natural menstrual cycle, Mild Stimulation IVF uses minimal doses of fertility drugs in order to achieve a mild response to stimulation. Compared to the 4-5 weeks of medication used in conventional IVF, stimulating medication is given for just 5-9 days, meaning it is a much shorter process and much gentler on the body than traditional IVF.

Women who can benefit from this form of treatment include:
Bullet  Those who are ovulating and have a good egg reserve
Bullet  Women with endometriosis who want to avoid high drug treatments that exacerbate the condition
Bullet  Those with Polycystic Ovaries (PCO)/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Bullet  Couples where there is male, rather than female, infertility

Advantages of these options in comparison to conventional IVF are:
Bullet  As a result of no drugs or lower drug doses, treatments are kinder to the body and there is a reduced chance of potential side effects (such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome)
Bullet  Treatment is carried out within a woman's natural menstrual cycle and there is no artificial menopause. This means that treatment is more patient-friendly, with less physical and emotional stresses and side-effects
Bullet  No drug and low drug treatments dramatically reduce the cost of treatment per cycle in comparison to conventional high stimulation IVF
Bullet  For Natural IVF, treatments can repeated in consecutive cycles

by Professor Dr Geeta Nargund, Medical Director, CREATE Fertility
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