Fertility Blog

Natural IVF and Mini IVF

The decision to pursue a fertility treatment involves deliberation of personal, medical and financial considerations. At Ohio Reproductive Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, a reproductive endocrinologist will help you weigh and balance the pros and cons of your options, and recommend a treatment that they think will provide you with the best chance for a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. Ultimately, you decide.

What is Natural IVF?

Natural IVF is In Vitro Fertilization without the use of medications to stimulate ovulation. A Natural IVF cycle is timed with your ovulation cycle. Natural IVF is appealing because of the low risk, lower costs, and fewer injections and fewer office visits, which means less stress.

If you choose Natural IVF, you will ovulate naturally and produces a single mature egg, which is harvested and fertilized in the lab to create an embryo that is transferred in to the woman’s uterus.

It is often called “medication-free” IVF, but that is not completely true. The woman will need daily injections to prevent early ovulation, and a small amount of gonadotropin to support the growth of the egg. There will still be ultrasounds and blood work to follow the development of the follicle. This approach is how the world’s first IVF baby in 1978. Because of the low success rate with Natural IVF, the traditional IVF procedure with ovarian stimulation was created to improve success rates!

The benefits of Natural IVF

  • Eliminates the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation, and the cost of expensive stimulation drugs at ~$6-8000.00 per cycle.
  • Eliminates painful multiple injections and drug side effects.
  • It produces a more comfortable cycle with less risk of mood swings and headaches.
  • Egg retrieval is faster and easier.
  • Natural cycle IVF is less costly and less stressful.

The cons of Natural IVF

  • Without stimulation drugs, ovulation may be premature, and lead to missed ovulation, and a cancelled cycle which reportedly happens in about 10-15% of the cycles.
  • There is only one egg, so there is only one chance for success. If the egg is unhealthy, or fertilization doesn’t occur, the cycle ends.
  • The other expenses of traditional IVF will still be costly and demanding. An injection is still necessary to prepare for egg retrieval.
  • You will still have the costs of frequent appointments and monitoring to track the development of the single ovarian follicle, surgical egg retrieval, in vitro fertilization and implantation.
  • Success rates for natural cycle IVF are significantly lower (7%) than the pregnancy rate with traditional IVF (30-47%).

What is Mini IVF or Minimal IVF?

With Mini IVF, a small amount of stimulation medication is used to create a smaller number (3-5) of eggs, while avoiding premature ovulation and hyperstimulation. Mini IVF is focused on producing quality eggs, not quantity.

Mini IVF without stimulation medication is Natural IVF or Natural Cycle IVF.

The benefits of Mini IVF

  • Only a small dose of oral or injectable fertility medication is needed. That means lower costs per cycle.
  • Retrieval of 3-5 eggs, and you decide how many embryos to transfer.
  • Lower cost per cycle that traditional IVF.
  • With Mini IVF treatment cycles can be done back to back without rest.
  • Mini IVF may be an option for certain women who do not respond well to injections, and have low ovarian reserves; and women with PCOS who are at high risk for ovarian hyperstimulation.
  • Recent research reports that pregnancy and live birth rates with mild stimulation are comparable with traditional IVF success rates.

The cons of Mini IVF

  • If only 3-4 eggs are retrieved, and all of those eggs do not fertilize or don’t survive for transfer, there will be just a few or no eggs left for another cycle.
  • If the mini IVF cycle doesn’t work, there will be fewer embryos for future cycles
  • Costs will still include cycle monitoring, egg retrieval, fertilization in a lab, and embryo transfer.

A note about Success Rates:

Cycle failure can happen for many reasons. The most important factor in success is the woman’s age when she is using her own eggs. As a woman’s age declines, after the mid 30s, success rates decline. Success rates also vary with the number of embryos implanted.

Is Natural IVF or Mini IVF right for you?

Speaking with a fertility expert at Ohio Reproductive medicine will help you decide whether either of these options is an appropriate choice for you. All of our patients receive customized care geared to your specific needs wishes.

In Central Ohio, Ohio Reproductive Medicine is the best fertility clinic for success with assisted reproduction technologies.