We are aware of much promotional material regarding low stimulation IVF, also marketed as natural IVF, with associated claims about success rates and possible cost benefits when compared to more traditional IVF treatment.
Whilst low stimulation IVF may seem initially attractive it does still involve all of the major steps required for traditional IVF with regular scans, an egg collection procedure under sedation and an embryo transfer process if embryos result. The main difference is the reduced or minimal level of ovarian stimulation.
However the disadvantage of this is that the number of mature eggs that can be recovered is a lot lower (one or two compared to the average ten or so in a traditionally managed IVF cycle).
With so few eggs available for the culture phase of the treatment there may not be sufficient for the creation of good embryos and so there may be no embryo transfer and thus no chance of a pregnancy.
Traditional IVF often results in extra good quality embryos which can be stored for future use. These embryos are frozen with a process called vitrification. Our current pregnancy rate with frozen embryos is 35%, and about half of our patients will have frozen embryos after a treatment cycle.
It may be necessary to undertake a number of low stimulation cycles to try and achieve a reasonable chance of a pregnancy and so the apparent advantages are lost as the perceived cost savings are not borne out by the need to repeat the process more frequently.
The Consultants at Bath Fertility Centre will always individualise your treatment to your specific needs, and indeed it may be that you will not need a lot of stimulus to achieve satisfactory ovarian response. However it may be that you will need quite high doses to ensure a good chance of a pregnancy and our aim will always be to try and make sure that each of your IVF cycle stands a high chance of an embryo transfer with a realistic prospect of a pregnancy.
It is recognised that the use of stimulation in IVF carries a small risk of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome and we always take the greatest care to advice patients of this, adjusting treatment regimens/medication to reduce the risk as appropriate. We also use other strategies to help minimises the impact of this uncommon side effect of IVF.