Fertility Blog

Natural Cycle IVF

Just as in fashion, technology can go retro. Natural cycle IVF was introduced in the early 1990’s but failed because it lagged behind success rates with fertility drugs and many cases were canceled because the patient ovulated before egg retrieval. About ten years ago, a novel drug called a GnRH antagonist was approved for patient use. This medication (Cetrotide, Ganirelix) allowed for a cycle, natural or otherwise, to be safely taken to retrieval by preventing premature ovulation and loss of the eggs before retrieval. This was the breakthrough that allowed the renaissance to bring back natural cycle IVF. In fact, natural cycle is a misnomer in that this is really modified natural cycle IVF.

Natural cycle IVF is basically following the single dominant normal physiologic development of one follicle to maturity and then triggering with HCG for egg collection. Before HCG the GnRH antagonist is given along with one ampule of Menopur for approximately three days to cultivate the egg. This keeps the cost of medications down to a fraction of a stimulated cycle and allows for optimal egg harvesting.

When Natural IVF is Beneficial

But why is that important to our patients? There is a niche indication for select patients where natural cycle IVF is more beneficial or more cost effective:

  • Young patients with an excellent prognosis for a single embryo transfer.

  • Older patients or those with poor ovarian reserve, who even with high dose expensive fertility medications would not yield more than one egg on retrieval.

  • Patients who want a higher pregnancy rate than fertility drugs with IUI, but want to be cost effective in saving expense on injectable fertility drugs; age range 36-40.

    This covers a fair number of our patients and just about everyone could consider this as an alternative. A typical IUI cycle may end in a pregnancy 2-7% / cycle depending on age of patient while a natural cycle IVF rivals that with 10-20%/ cycle, respectively.

    The price point for this service is very competitive and is also covered by insurance if you have the benefit. Please review this option with your physician at Washington Fertility Center or make an appointment to see one of us at your convenience.