What are your options for Natural and Mild IVF ? B speaks to Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director at Create Fertility
As a fertility doctor, something I see all too often is women and couples desperate to conceive but utterly bewildered by the prospect of beginning fertility treatment. It simply doesn’t have to be like this. Whilst navigating the IVF landscape can be an extremely daunting prospect, more needs to be done to guide the one in six who need a helping hand when it comes to having children.
Conventional IVF treatment uses higher dosages of stimulation drugs that force the ovaries to mature high numbers of eggs per cycle. This means that many of those eggs retrieved are likely to be of a lower quality than those naturally selected by the body. This approach effectively favours quantity over quality. Only around five per cent of eggs collected in conventional stimulation cycles are capable of making babies in younger women where as around 25 per cent of eggs from Natural IVF are capable of making babies. This shows that eggs with no/low stimulation can be a lot healthier. Furthermore, excessive use of these hormonal drugs can have serious physical side-effects for IVF patients. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a serious complication of over-stimulation, with symptoms ranging from nausea and bloating through to clotting in the lungs. In addition, the large doses of medication used in Conventional IVF means costs can quickly get out of control.
Many couples believe that Conventional IVF is the only available option, however, there are alternatives to the drug-intensive and costly treatment. Natural, Modified Natural and Mild IVF use little to no harmful drugs and are more affordable and less harmful to women.
When you are deciding on the best fertility treatment for you, it is important to have an understanding of the range of options that are available, so that you are able to make an informed decision.
Natural and Modified Natural IVF
In Natural IVF treatment, no stimulation drugs are used and instead the only eggs collected are those that have been naturally selected for release by a woman’s ovaries. Research has shown that a high-quality, naturally selected egg is more likely to develop into a high-quality embryo, and thus a healthier baby at birth. There is in fact evidence to suggest that babies born via Natural IVF are more likely to be born at full term and at a healthier birth weight. It was by this method of IVF that Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, was born 40 years ago.
Natural IVF is especially well suited to women with a low egg reserve, and those who wish to avoid the physical strain and risk of stimulation drugs.
Another option is Modified Natural IVF, which uses low doses of fertility drugs for three to four days to block spontaneous ovulation and a small dose of stimulation hormone is taken to keep the follicles healthy and growing. The naturally selected egg is then collected, as in Natural IVF. More than one egg is frequently collected per cycle.
This type of IVF treatment is well suited to older women, those with low egg reserves, those with a family history of oestrogen dependent tumours, as well as women who don’t respond well to high doses of stimulating Conventional IVF treatments.
Mild Stimulation IVF
Mild Stimulation IVF uses lower doses of fertility drugs during the natural menstrual cycle, to gently stimulate ovaries and result in the collection of six to 10 higher quality eggs. Compared to the daily administration of medication over four to five weeks in Conventional IVF, the drugs in Mild Stimulation IVF are taken over just five to nine days, reducing the length of treatment and ensuring minimal harm to the patient.
The reduced drugs and focus on quality over quantity in Mild IVF means this treatment is especially suitable for women with a normal egg reserve, those with polycystic ovarian syndrome or those with endometriosis who want to avoid risks of OHSS and high stimulation treatments.
By using little to no drugs, Natural and Mild IVF treatments are considerably kinder to women’s bodies and carry fewer side-effects and short and long-term health risks than conventional treatments. Furthermore, the reduced medication used in these treatments makes for a much more affordable option for couples who may not have been able to afford IVF otherwise. By focusing on the quality, as opposed to the quantity, of eggs collected during each natural cycle, Natural and Mild IVF protect both the short and long-term health of mother and child.
For women who are unsure about Conventional IVF, or those who want to avoid the large dosages of fertility drugs, Natural and Mild IVF treatments can offer a safer, more affordable option to couples who require fertility treatment with healthier outcomes for mother and baby.