IVF stands for in vitro fertilisation and literally refers to the process by which a woman’s egg is fertilised by a man’s sperm outside of the body. Whether there are lots of eggs or only one, it is each egg that undergoes IVF. IVF does not refer to the hormone therapy using fertility drugs often given before IVF takes place. Indeed, the very first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born without the use of any fertility drugs. Her mother underwent drug-free Natural Cycle IVF. Though IVF refers to this specific process, there can be a lot of variation in what is called the ‘IVF treatment protocol’.
What is the IVF treatment protocol?
The IVF treatment protocol is the single factor that varies most between different fertility clinics and is one of the most important factors in dictating the success or failure of IVF. The protocol is set by the doctor at the outset of treatment and describes the regime used to mature the egg(s) in the ovary to be collected. There are broadly 3 approaches to the IVF treatment protocol: Natural Cycle IVF This is the original and the most natural form of IVF treatment; it is one of the most commonly performed types of IVF in the world. It is a drug-free protocol, with the aim of focusing on the single egg, which is “ naturally selected” by the woman’s ovary every month. This is especially suitable for those who have low ovarian reserve, do not respond well or are at risk of complications due to fertility drugs and those that want to avoid fertility drugs. It is done in a woman’s natural cycle with the egg being collected when it is naturally ready. It avoids the complication fertility drugs including Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
Modified Natural Cycle IVF This is a form of Natural Cycle IVF, where very low dosages of fertility drugs are used. Though there are some injections, it brings not only the benefits of Natural Cycle IVF, such as “natural selection “of the egg, comfort, ease and safety for the woman, but also increases the success rate vs Natural Cycle IVF. At CREATE, we tailor Modified Natural Cycles to the woman depending on her cycle length and age. As with other forms of Natural Cycle IVF, it is done in a woman’s Natural cycle and avoids risks including OHSS.
Mild IVF Mild IVF is a form of stimulated IVF where low doses of hormones are given for a shorter period (5-9 days) in a woman’s own natural cycle with an aim to collect between 2-7 eggs. It is aimed at “quality and not quantity” of eggs and embryos. This IVF treatment brings many of the benefits of low dose stimulation, such as good embryo quality, favourable implantation environment and safer treatment. Our Mild IVF success rates are excellent. It avoids risks of conventional IVF and can be “OHSS Free’. It is the modern and advanced method of stimulated IVF aimed at increasing success and safety for women. There is no menopausal state caused by ovarian suppression (downregulation) and takes place in a woman’s natural cycle.
This is the IVF treatment performed by most fertility clinics in the UK. The process involves suppression of ovaries first, followed by daily injections of higher dosages of fertility drugs. Treatment can take up to 4 to 6 weeks, it is more stressful and carries more health risks associated with medication than any of CREATE’s approaches. For those with low egg reserve, it has a reduced chance of success because Conventional IVF relies on higher number of eggs. Furthermore, with advances in Mild IVF, it is now unnecessary to use the Conventional IVF protocol. We have abandoned Conventional IVF as old-fashioned and out-dated practice and have not performed a downregulated cycle in many years.
Some Common Fertility Problems There are many different issues that can affect your ability to conceive. We have put together a list of some of the most common fertility problems to help you understand what might be affecting your chances of having a child.
During IVF Treatment
There are common steps, which occur during IVF Treatment, whatever the treatment Protocol. We have put together a detailed set of information and videos that explain the IVF treatment experience at CREATE Fertility. Please click through to find out more about the IVF Patient Journey.
20 Questions to ask a Fertility or IVF clinic Here are a list of 20 questions we would recommend you ask any fertility or IVF clinic. These will give you more information to make a better decision on who is best for your testing and treatment.