Natural Cycle IVF – Aiming for a Better Quality Embryo

In the beginning IVF attempts were made by collecting eggs during the natural menstrual cycles of the woman who wanted to have a baby. This is known as natural cycle IVF, which does not involve any ovarian stimulation. However, this natural cycle was replaced by ovarian stimulation procedures, as the latter resulted in higher success rates. Few infertility clinics still offer IVF procedures that are limited to the natural cycles or un-stimulated cycles.

Ovarian Stimulation-The Benefit

The stimulated process allows a larger number of embryos to be transferred and increases the pregnancy rate; therefore, ovarian stimulation is the preferred method for ICSI in IVF procedures. Now, we are seeing a revival of IVF in natural cycles. Many couples are better-informed about the risks of multiple babies and opt for a single healthy baby. If you want only one embryo to be transferred, there is no need to go through ovarian stimulation procedures. Of course, the chances of success may dip, but you have the option to go through multiple IVF cycles.

Learn More about Poor Ovarian Response

About Natural Cycle ICSI

A natural cycle ICSI consists of retrieving the eggs from the female partner without any stimulation. It involves retrieval of only one egg per cycle and the method is a simple and natural one that is patient friendly. Women who are below the age of 35 years can easily opt for a natural cycle IVF, whereas those above 35 prefer to opt for the transfer of multiple embryos using ovarian stimulation. Here are some facts:

  • In a completely natural or an un-stimulated cycle, the risks of multiple pregnancy and hyperstimulation problems are completely eliminated
  • Though the success rate may be less, you might actually benefit from the natural cycle ICSI treatment
  • In many clinics, a certain percentage of couples prefer to go through the IVF procedure without making use of any fertility medications, apart from the hCG shot, which is actually used for triggering the ovulation
Statistically, the chances of success in case of a natural cycle are lower when compared to that of a stimulated cycle. The reason for this is that in a natural cycle process, only one egg can be obtained from the woman during a natural cycle. This egg also has to be retrieved before the natural ovulation of the female, which can be quite difficult to predict; in some cases , this can pose a major challenge
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Natural Cycle ICSI- The Benefit

The advantages of a natural cycle procedure are that the embryo produced can be of a better quality due to the retrieval of a single egg. It can also be beneficial in implantation. If you are an older woman or a poor responder to stimulants, clinics like also offer this option. If you have the problem of a poor quality embryo after stimulated cycles or if you are not able to take stimulation or fertility medications, you could try out a natural cycle. In case of a natural cycle, there is only one embryo, so it is recommended that the embryo be transferred on day 3 in a natural cycle IVF.


Though the chances of success in a stimulated ovarian IVF procedure are higher when compared to a natural cycle ICSI, some couples prefer to go in for an un-stimulated procedure for various reasons.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.