Infertility: Natural cycles for in-vitro fertilization: cost-effectiveness analysis and factors influencing outcome*
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Improvements in oocyte culture technique, sperm preparation, oocyte retrieval method and ovarian stimulation regimens have produced higher pregnancy rates with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. However, because ovarian stimulation is expensive and not without risk, there is increasing interest in the option of using natural cycles for IVF. This study was performed to document the experience and outcome in 240 natural cycles. Cancellation occurred in 28 cycles (12%), and LH surge was observed in 56 (23%), leaving 156 (65%) cycles which progressed to oocyte retrieval. No oocytes were retrieved in 26 cycles. Among the successful oocyte retrievals, the majority yielded one oocyte. There was no evidence of fertilization in 26 cases, and triploid fertilization was observed in 12 cases. Embryos suitable for transfer were available in 92 cycles in which 11 (12%) clinical pregnancies were confirmed. Despite the high failure rate at each step in the process, natural cycles are more cost-effective than stimulated cycles which incur an incremental cost per live birth of $48,000. Natural cycles offer a low-cost alternative that may be more accessible to patients.
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