In vitro fertilization is often a great way for couples struggling with infertility to build a family. However, due to the medications, side effects and cost, in vitro fertilization can be taxing on your body and your pocketbook. Minimal stimulation, or natural cycle, IVF is popping up as a friendlier option at more fertility clinics. You may have seen posters about it in your fertility clinic. In order to best advocate for yourself, you need to know your options, so here is the lowdown on minimal stimulation IVF.
Minimal stimulation IVF tends to work with your natural cycle. Instead of using a few different injectable fertility medications to encourage multiple follicle growth, the natural cycle protocol uses only one shot that triggers ovulation to occur. If you have extreme side effects from the injectable fertility medications, you might find this option desirable because you won't have to endure multiple daily shots during the first few weeks of your cycle. Eliminating most of the injectable medication and the continuous ultrasounds that follow can also save you a substantial amount of money.
During a natural cycle, only one or two follicles will be harvested, but those eggs will go through the same process as a traditional IVF to determine viability. Since only a few follicles are harvested, you might be able to have the procedure done in your reproductive endocrinologist's office. If it can be done without the assistance of an anesthesiologist, you'll eliminate another big ticket item from your bill.
But remember, every patient is different. The marketing of natural cycle IVF can be inviting, but it might not be right for you.
Dr. Alan Copperman, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at The Mount Sinai Hospital and medical director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, says all patients should speak to their physicians about optimizing their stimulation regimen.
After all, your goal is to get pregnant as safely and quickly as possible.
"Some practices market 'low-dose' or 'minimal stimulation' protocols as being more 'patient-friendly,' but ultimately, the 'friendliness' of the protocol choice should be measured by its success in helping the patient conceive a healthy pregnancy," Dr. Copperman says.