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Back to the future: Why Natural Cycle IVF means going back to basics

Posted on 20.2.15

IVF is almost unrecognisable from what it was like in 1978 when the first IVF baby was born. In the early years clinics were few and far between, success rates were very low, and there were few opportunities to test the quality of embryos before transfer. 

But not everything has changed. The principles of IVF remain the same – to give nature a helping hand - to bring together a sperm and an egg for fertilisation in the laboratory.

The first “test-tube” baby

The world’s first “test-tube” baby, Louise Brown was conceived in England under the care of Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe, and, unlike most IVF pregnancies today, the egg from which she was conceived was collected from her mother’s regular “natural” cycle.  Without egg collection for IVF, that egg would have grown and ovulated just as in any regular monthly cycle. In fact, all that was “unnatural” about this first successful IVF was where the conception took place – in the test-tube and not the Fallopian tube.

A mild approach to IVF has been seriously considered for some years now.

Modern IVF

In fact, most IVF cycles from the early 1980s onwards – have not collected their eggs from a natural cycle but from an unnatural cycle stimulated by hormone drugs. For the belief was (and still is) that the chances of pregnancy are much lower when only one “natural” egg is available for collection from a stimulated ovary.

How does Natural Cycle IVF work?

Natural cycle IVF involves collecting and fertilising the one egg that you naturally release during your monthly cycle. When mature, usually around 10-14 days of your cycle (based on your normal natural cycle length), the egg is retrieved in a simple procedure of follicle aspiration and egg collection.  The egg(s) are then fertilised with your partner’s (or donor) sperm using modern IVF techniques.  After 2-3 days a single embryo is replaced in the uterus and you take a pregnancy test two weeks later.

For more information on Natural Cycle IVF please contact us on 020 3819 3282 or email

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