Natural cycle IVF reduces the risk of low birthweight infants compared with conventional stimulated IVF

Winifred Mak, Laxmi A. Kondapalli, Gerard Celia, John Gordon, Michael Dimattina, Mark Payson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


STUDY QUESTION Are perinatal outcomes improved in singleton pregnancies resulting from fresh embryo transfers performed following unstimulated/natural cycle IVF (NCIVF) compared with stimulated IVF? SUMMARY ANSWER Infants conceived by unstimulated/NCIVF have a lower risk of being low birthweight than infants conceived by stimulated IVF; however, this risk did not remain significant after adjusting for gestation age. WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN Previous studies have shown that infants born after modified NCIVF have a higher average birthweight and are less likely to be low birthweight than those infants conceived with conventional stimulated IVF. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION Retrospective cohort study of singleton live births in non-smoking women undergoing fresh IVF-embryo transfer cycles from 2007 to 2013 in a single IVF center. The women were stratified by stimulated (n = 174) or unstimulated (n = 190) IVF exposure status. Unstimulated/NCIVF is defined as IVF without the use of exogenous gonadotrophins, and only includes the use of HCG to time oocyte retrieval. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS Demographic data including maternal age, BMI, infertility diagnosis and IVF cycle characteristics were collected. The perinatal outcomes used for comparison between the two study groups were length of gestation, birthweight, preterm delivery, very preterm delivery, low birthweight, small for gestational age and large for gestational age. MAIN RESULTS AND ROLE OF CHANCE Although women in the NCIVF group were older than those in the stimulated group (35.0 versus 34.2 years, P < 0.05), parity and history of prior ART cycles were comparable between the groups. The mean birthweight was significantly higher in the NCIVF group by 163 g than in the stimulated group (3436 ± 420 g versus 3273 ± 574 g, P < 0.05). Consistent with this finding, there were also less low birthweight (<2500 g) infants in the NCIVF group versus stimulated group (1 versus 8.6%, P < 0.005). The reduction in risk for low birthweight in the NCIVF group remained significant after adjustment for maternal age, infertility diagnosis, ICSI, number of embryos transferred and blastocyst transfer (odds ratio (OR) 0.07; 95% CI 0.014-0.35). As NCIVF group had less preterm infants, additional adjustment for gestational age was performed and this showed a tendency towards lower risk of low birthweight in NCIVF (OR 0.11; 95% CI 0.01-1.0). While gestational age at delivery was comparable between the groups, both preterm births (<37 weeks gestation) (31 versus 42%, P < 0.05) and very preterm births (<32 weeks gestation) (0.52 versus 6.3%, P < 0.005) were significantly reduced in the NCIVF group. However, after adjustment for potential confounders, the reduction in risk of preterm and very preterm delivery associated with the NCIVF group was no longer significant (OR 1.1; 95% CI 0.48-2.5). LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Limitations of this study are the retrospective nature of the data collection and the lack of information about parental characteristics associated with birthweight. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The improved perinatal outcomes following successful unstimulated/NCIVF suggest that this treatment should be considered as a viable option for infertile couples. NCIVF could reduce potential adverse perinatal outcomes such as low birthweight related to fresh embryo transfers performed following ovarian stimulation. The etiology of the improved perinatal outcomes following NCIVF needs to be explored further to determine if the improvement is derived from endometrial factors versus follicular/oocyte factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-794
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • in vitro fertilization
  • lowbirthweight
  • natural cycle
  • neonatal
  • obstetric
  • outcomes
  • pretermbirth
  • stimulated
  • unstimulated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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