Conventional, Natural, & Mini IVF: Which Treatment Plan is Right For You?


For some people, becoming a parent is smooth sailing. However, if this isn’t true for you, you’re not alone. You may have a variety of things going on that make conceiving a child more of a challenge.

One option to expand your family is in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. There are three different types of IVF, and which one is right for you depends on a variety of factors.

Conventional IVF

What you typically hear about is conventional IVF. The basic process of IVF is that eggs are retrieved and then fertilized outside the body using a sperm sample from the partner or a donor. IVF is used when you have damaged fallopian tubes (meaning an egg can't get to the uterus) or extremely irregular menstruation. It can also be helpful for male factor infertility, whether with your own sperm using a method which gets it into the egg or with a well-matched donor, and for same sex couples and intentional single parents.

In conventional IVF, you receive fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation and cause your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Eggs are then harvested in a simple procedure, fertilized and implanted. Typically more than one egg is implanted to reduce the risk of failure, however this increases the risk of multiple pregnancies so some couples prefer sequential implantation.

Mini IVF

Mini IVF uses lower amounts of fertility medication, releasing fewer eggs. This means you get fewer side effects from the medication. The cost is also typically lower.

One risk with conventional IVF is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which causes cystic enlargement of the ovaries and causes symptoms which range from abdominal pain to low blood pressure to compromised pulmonary function. Because of this, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are poor candidates for conventional IVF, but often do better with mini IVF.

Mini IVF is also a better option if you have diminished ovarian reserve (conventional IVF can deplete reserves quickly). It also produces fewer embryos. With conventional IVF it is common for embryos to be discarded. Some couples prefer to avoid this for religious or ethical reasons.

Natural IVF

Natural IVF is IVF that is done without the use of any fertility medications. This is more affordable and completely avoids the side effects of fertility medications, which can include mood swings, bloating, and tender breasts. You might, however, be recommended supplements and progesterone. A single egg is harvested.

The downside is that it may take more cycles. However, natural IVF is an option for people who have a family history of hormone-related cancers (which can easily be triggered by fertility medications). Some people may have religious objections or personal preferences which lead them to natural IVF, which does not result in multiples or discarded embryos, and may be seen as intervening less.

Discover the right IVF treatment plan for you and your future family

Essentially, the difference between the three types of IVF is the amount and type of medications used. Conventional IVF uses stronger doses of ovary-stimulating medications, while natural IVF uses none at all. Mini IVF falls in between the two.

Which IVF treatment plan is right for you depends on your fertility factors and specific situation. For example, natural IVF might be chosen by an intended parent who does not want to discard embryos, or by a same sex couple where the carrying parent has very regular cycles and high natural fertility. 

Conventional IVF, however, typically has a higher success rate and is likely to be chosen by those with multiple fertility factors. If both partners have fertility issues, conventional IVF is more likely to result in success.

The best way to navigate this is to talk to a specialist. Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles has the expertise needed to help you decide whether IVF is right for you, and if so which type. If you are having fertility challenges or are a same sex couple or single intended parent, contact us today to get started.

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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