Mild vs Natural IVF - What’s The Difference?
How are Mild and Natural IVF different from conventional IVF?
Mild and Natural IVF are different from conventional IVF in their approach. Whilst Mild and Natural IVF focus on the quality of eggs retrieved and work alongside the woman’s natural menstrual cycle, conventional IVF uses stimulating drugs to grow lots of follicles (immature egg cells). These drugs shut the menstrual cycle down (‘down-regulation’) before re-starting it again.
With Mild IVF and Natural IVF the wellbeing of the woman is paramount, so there are fewer drugs, less side effects and a reduced treatment duration. Furthermore, treatment focuses on those eggs that only need gentle help to mature, meaning that they will likely be of good quality.
In conventional IVF, patients are at a higher risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) as a result of over-stimulation from FSH injections. This can lead to a range of symptoms such as nausea and painful and swollen ovaries. Using the milder IVF approach, the risk of OHSS is reduced. We have, in fact, successfully and safely treated patients who have developed OHSS at another clinic.
In addition to the differences we've discussed, there are some important differences between Mild IVF and Natural IVF themselves. These are outlined below:
Natural IVF Treatments
There are three main types of Natural IVF fertility treatments:
- Natural Cycle IVF (also known as Pure Natural)
- Natural Modified IVF (also known as Natural Cycle Modified IVF)
- Natural Cycle with IVM
The primary focus of Natural IVF is to collect eggs aligned with a woman’s natural cycle, and uses no stimulating drugs. This IVF treatment is the closest you can get to natural fertilisation via IVF. The benefits are as follows:
- No stimulating drugs or injections
- By avoiding stimulating drugs, the womb is more receptive to pregnancy
- No downregulation (the process whereby your system is shut down and restarted in conventional IVF)
- A safer and shorter fertility treatment
- A focus on quality of eggs, not quantity
Who is Natural IVF suitable for?
Natural IVF and Natural Modified IVF (see below) are suitable for every woman who is still ovulating and wants to avoid or reduce stimulating IVF drugs, however it is particularly suitable for those who:
- Have low ovarian/egg reserve
- Have low Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH)
- Have high Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Are older but wish to try with their own eggs, rather than with donor eggs
- Suffer from severe endometriosis
- Have a history of hormone-dependent cancers
- Want to avoid the risks and side effects of high stimulation IVF
- Have had previous failure of implantation with conventional IVF
- Women who have had a poor response to conventional IVF (e.g. produced fewer than three eggs)
Usually patients with extremely low ovarian reserve opt for Natural IVF as the focus shifts from needing more stimulating drugs (see mild IVF), to collecting the best of those that are remaining.
Natural Modified IVF
Natural Modified IVF is very similar to Natural IVF, but is different because it is ‘modified’ to include a short course of stimulating drugs. A different medication is also given for 3-4 days prior to egg collection to prevent spontaneous ovulation, in addition to a small dose of stimulation hormone to keep the follicles healthy and growing.
The key benefits of Natural Modified IVF are:
- An improved success rate compared with Natural Cycle IVF (whilst still maintaining many of the benefits)
- The lining of the womb is more favourable for implantation
- Less fertility drugs means lowered risks and chance of side effects
- No breaks needed between cycles
We also have the ability to tailor the treatment to the individual (e.g. tablets instead of injections if preferable)
Who is Natural Modified IVF suitable for?
(Same as Natural IVF - please see above)
Natural Cycle IVF with IVM
Pioneered by CREATE Fertility’s Scientific Director Professor R C Chian, in Vitro Maturation (IVM) is a revolutionary IVF treatment. Via this method, multiple immature eggs can be collected and matured in the laboratory - there is no need for the mother to take hormone stimulating drugs.
Find out more about Natural Cycle with IVM
Who is it suitable for?
Whilst this treatment is available to any woman who is ovulating, IVF with IVM needs to be specifically recommended by one of our doctors.
Typically, it is appropriate for those whose time time is short, or are unable to take fertility medication (due to an oestrogen dependent tumour, for example).
Primarily this is a successful IVF option for women with Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Mild IVF (also known as mild stimulation IVF) is similar to Natural IVF as it works with a woman’s natural menstrual cycle. However, Mild IVF is different to Natural IVF as stimulating drugs are given with the aim of collecting 2-10 eggs - but at a lower dosage and for a shorter duration than conventional IVF.
Mild IVF is different to Natural IVF as stimulating drugs are given with the aim of achieving a mild response. The process and benefits are as follows:
- Mild IVF women will complete a 5-9 day course of fewer stimulation drugs
- Reduced risks and side effects
- Reduced risk of OHSS
- Shorter overall treatment process (approx.2 weeks)
- Excellent success rates
Who Mild IVF suitable for?
Mild stimulation IVF works well for women with a good ovarian reserve, and it has excellent success rates.
It is also is suitable for:
- Those in a relationship with only male factor infertility
- Women with Polycystic Ovaries (PCO)/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Many women choose Mild IVF because they want treatment that is fitted around them, and which has reduced impact on their lives.
Mild IVF vs Natural IVF
Whether you need Mild IVF or Natural IVF is based on your individual circumstances, and will be determined by your doctor at your Initial Consultation and Scan.
If you are considering IVF for the first time, have already tried conventional IVF, or are simply looking for a fertility test - we are here to listen!