Our featured segment today is our save more topic: a way to get Fertility treatments for about a quarter of the usual cost. It’s called “natural cycle IVF” and it’s cheaper because it relies more on the body’s own natural rhythms rather than paying to do everything artificially. My guest is Michelle Katz, otherwise known as “Nurse Katz.” Michelle is a trained nurse, a healthcare advocate and the author of several books about saving money on healthcare, most recently, Healthcare Made Easy.
Let’s begin at the beginning: What is Natural Cycle IVF?
Natural cycle IVF does not use medications to stimulate multiple egg development. Instead, it’s timed to work with your own ovulation cycle. Doctors are then able to harvest one naturally matured egg, rather than giving you meds to stimulate your body to produce multiple eggs at once. This greatly reduces the amount of fertility drugs needed in the cycle, which makes natural cycle IVF much less expensive.
I’ve heard it called “drug-free IVF.” Is that accurate?
There are far fewer meds involved in natural Cycle IVF, but there is one injection of human chorionic gonadotropin used to prepare the egg for retrieval.
What are the Pros and cons of natural cycle IVF. Let’s start with the pros.
•It eliminates the need for expensive drugs to stimulate ovulation. Those drugs can also have side effects for some women.
•The egg retrieval process is faster and easier because the doctor is only trying to retrieve one egg.
•There is far less risk of multiple pregnancies. Since just one egg is used.
•There is no down time like there is in traditional IVF, so as long as your cycles are regular, you can try every month
OK, now the cons:
•You’re relying on just one egg, so if that egg is not healthy, you’ve missed your chance for that month.
•You also don’t have extra eggs to store for another time —although some people consider this a benefit because they don’t like the moral dilemma of what to do with unused eggs.
•A lower overall success rate. There are fewer successful births per cycle attempted, because you are not “stacking the deck” the way you do with traditional IVF.
And yet many believers in natural IVF say the success rate is actually similar to that of conventional or “stimulated” IVF. Why is that?
Proponents of natural IVF say 2 to 3 cycles of natural IVF has similar results to a single cycle of traditional IVF. And since the natural IVF process is much cheaper and easier, many women can easily do multiple cycles of it.
Who are the best candidates for natural IVF?
•Under 36 years old
•Regular menstrual cycles
•But even women close to age 50 has gotten pregnant through natural IVF as long as they have regular periods.
In fact, doesn’t natural cycle IVF work better for some couples?
There are plenty of stories out there of women failing to get pregnant from multiple cycles of regular IVF and then succeeding with natural IVF.
Is In vitro fertilization —whether traditional or natural— ever covered by insurance?
More and more insurance companies are covering IVF or parts of IVF. These include:
•Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
•and CIGNA’S PPO
Any tips for getting your insurance company to cover your fertility treatments?
You can get your insurance to pay for some of the meds like the Reflex, doxycycline, estradiol, promethium and even some of the initial blood work and tests. Your doctor needs to document certain things to make this happen.. I have a few, but I will see him tomorrow and ask what other insurance carriers are starting to do.
You’ve also helped women tweak their schedules to accommodate natural fertility treatments. Tell me about that.
Retrieval only takes about 20 minutes and transfer takes about 5 minutes so there is no real time off except if your doctor is cross country…and this is possible since there are only 4 experienced doctors doing this in the US. The baseline tests and sonogram only take 5 minutes and that is done usually before working hours. The most time is spent picking up your medications at the pharmacy