At the Center for Fertility and Gynecology in Los Angeles, we are proud to offer alternative fertility treatments such as natural IVF. Natural IVF can be attractive to patients for medical, economic, ideological and age related reasons. This blog post will describe the process of natural IVF as well as those who good candidates for this procedure.
In natural IVF, a patient’s normal menstrual cycle is allowed to proceed without any type of medical interference. Beginning around day 8 or 9 of the menstrual cycle, an ultrasound is performed to determine if an egg is developing within the ovary. While the egg cannot directly be seen, the structure an egg grows within, a follicle, can be seen. If a follicle is seen, the estrogen level is checked to further clarify the maturity of the egg within. Once the estrogen level is high enough and the follicle is large enough, a single injection of HCG (the trigger shot) is administered. 36 hours later, a follicle aspiration procedure (egg retrieval) is performed to retrieve the egg from the ovary. This procedure can proceed with our without anesthesia depending on the patients preference and location of the follicle.
If the egg is obtained (50-60% of the time) it is exposed to sperm, usually through ICSI, that same day. The next morning, we check to see if fertilization has occurred. Once fertilized, the embryo grows in the lab for 3-5 days and then can be frozen for future use or freshly transferred into the uterus.
Candidates for natural IVF
For women with diminished ovarian reserve (age related or not) who do not produce many eggs despite strong ovarian stimulation, natural IVF is a reasonable alternative. Also, patients with unique medical problems such as specific clotting disorders or malignancies may benefit from natural cycle IVF. In addition, patients who prefer to avoid stimulation of multiple eggs for ideological or religious reasons may find natural IVF more acceptable.
Cost of Natural IVF
Natural IVF is considerably less expensive than traditional IVF. The reason it costs less is that there is very little cost due to medication and there are less visits to the doctor. Additionally, the payment structure is designed in a way that patients only pay a specific amount at each step. For example, an initial payment is required before the egg retrieval and then more payment is only required once the egg is obtained.
It is important to realize that while natural IVF costs less than traditional IVF, it is not necessarily a more cost effective approach. One must consider the cost per egg retrieved and then decide if natural IVF is a better option for them.
If you have questions about natural IVF, or any fertility treatments in general, feel free to contact us, we would be happy to speak with you.