Study: Natural IVF Cycles Have Some Significant Disadvantages

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some women trying to conceive are opting for something called “natural” in vitro fertilization.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports natural IVF means retrieving an egg from a woman during her normal cycle, without the stimulation of extra fertility drugs.

Those drugs, however, mean that on average, a woman produces 12 times as many eggs per cycle, improving the odds of getting pregnant.

Questions are being raised if those eggs are healthy.

Dr. Richard Scott, the clinical and scientific director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, conducted a study to determine if those eggs are truly as healthy. Scott compared nearly 400 naturally produced egg cycles versus 1,800 similar patients. The babies born either way were just as healthy, but natural IVF cycles had some significant disadvantages.

“Far inferior in terms of delivery rates because you get fewer opportunities per treatment cycle. That costs more money, it wastes time, enormous psychological burden for the patients, so giving a medication, the same stuff their body uses, just in a little higher content, allows to get multiple eggs to get more delivery rates,” Scott explained.

Laura Davis’ first IVF attempt was a so-called “natural” cycle. She turned to IVF after two ectopic pregnancies left her with damaged fallopian tubes.

“I was eager to try the natural study in attempts to have a child as natural as possible,” Davis said.

Many women go the natural route because of the belief that eggs produced with the aid of fertility drugs may be inferior.

“They might be more prone to genetic error. They might not work as well. They might implant less often. They might be less likely to make a healthy baby,” Scott said.

Davis produced just one egg that failed via the natural route with stimulation.

“They retrieved, I believe it was, 24 eggs,” Davis said.

It was that stimulated cycle that gave Davis her now 6-month-old girl.

“I never would have wanted this life without her now that you know what it’s like to have her,” Davis said.

It also used to be thought that fertility drugs increased the chance for ovarian cancer, but it turns out it’s not getting pregnant that increases that risk.

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