Natural IVF in Japan

Did you know that Japan is at the forefront of infertility treatments?

Mini-IVF was invented in Japan. (See here)

The Japanese also found away to awaken dormant follicles in women whose ovaries stopped working.  (See here)

They are pioneers in the industry. Even all these breakthroughs don’t guarantee a live birth. Every women is different. And what works for one, may not work for another.

In our case, Natural IVF was the best option.

We were young, married, and ready to start a family. I had worried about my fertility since childhood. This was because of my battle with cancer. Before marriage, I warned my husband of the possibility. I checked my hormones at the clinic and they assured me that everything was normal. My husband assured me that kids were great, but he’d be okay if it didn’t happen.

 

After a couple years of marriage we started trying in earnest. A year passed and nothing. Every month was a BFN. Our first fertility clinic had a female doctor. She could give little reason for our problems. She discovered a fibroid in my uterus and put me on a Chinese herbal treatment.

That didn’t help.

 

My husband’s company transferred us to the opposite side of Tokyo. Our family plans paused for a few months while we adjusted to our new area which had superior fertility clinics. The next clinic we tried had a perpetually packed lobby. It was rated highly with good results and reviews. They didn’t want to use drugs and treatments on me.

Most of the time I didn’t ovulate. My follicles turned into cysts. I had a problem with ovulation and egg quality even though my FSH was normal. My tubes weren’t blocked. They could give no reason.

That was the Pee-in-the-cup clinic. When I came around ovulation I had to pee in a cub and wait for the results. They tried clomid on me to disastrous results. They checked my AMH and discovered it was critically low for my age. The news was devastating.

We transitioned to a new clinic after deciding the old one wasn’t working. We also wanted one to treat the fibroid that we worried was the reason I could not get pregnant. In those days I was pretty sure I’d never get pregnant. I had never been before. Something seemed very, very wrong and no one knew why.

The new doctor had a quirky sense of humor, unique in the IVF industry. I was asked to test my basal body temperature every day and keep track. My temperature hardly shifted. I still rarely ovulated at this time even though my FSH ranged between 6-10. The highest back then was 11.

Most of the time I failed to ovulate and developed a cyst. They decided I had very poor egg quality. My AMH continued its decline.

 

At this clinic he performed an MRI and gave a devastating prognosis: advanced adenomyosis.

I sat in stone silence as he went over the picture and explained that my uterus was 70% compromised. I would likely become pregnant. There was no cure. He could see calcium deposits in it.

I held on through the train ride back, but fell apart in the entryway of my home as my husband desperately comforted me. We returned together that weekend so the doctor could explain in Japanese.

 

I changed my eating habits in a desperate attempt to improve the outcome.

We tried chemical IVF for the first time. My FSH was 6 that month. Despite the daily injections, I only grew three follicles around 10 mm and the E2 was 350 total for all of them. The cycle was canceled. It cost $4000 for a failed cycle.

We decided never again.

DSC01548
The Summer That Changed Everything

Our decision on IVF shifted after another MRI showed my adenomyosis had greatly improved. The calcium deposits had completely disappeared. We became hopeful and decided one more and that would be the last.

There were signs of an excellent cycle, yet the clinic was closing for the month. The doctor advised skipping this cycle even though they told us last week we could go ahead. I called my husband. We’d had enough and switched to a new clinic.

Leaving your infertility clinic is a big pain. All your results and data is there. It’s a financial burden to pack up and leave. We did it anyway.

At the new clinic they saw a follicle on the first day and suggested Natural IVF. I had never heard of this before. No hormones. No chemicals. They simply take the follicle out.

On my first day I was put on a nasal spray to mature the follicle. The next day they extracted a Grade 1 embryo. Three days later they put it back. I don’t remember much about the two week wait. I really didn’t think much about it. I had no expectation of it working given the state of my uterus.

I was stunned when the doctor informed, “You’re pregnant.”

 

I called my husband and cried with joy. Joy is what we had for the next sixteen weeks.

What we didn’t know is the premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, advanced adenomyosis, and poor egg quality were not the only problems I had. I had an incompetent cervix. One that opened without my knowledge and let in an infection.

I went into early labor and our son died within five minutes. A couple days later the infection almost took away my uterus entirely. We were lucky it was caught after my husband insist the doctor check again. The antibiotics stopped the infection and I was eventually allowed to go home to mourn.

Natural IVF is the only thing that ever worked for us. We continue it now, hoping for another miracle. Sadly, my eggs remain in bad quality. We have frozen the few we took out by Natural IVF that fertilized and grew.

Right now our main hope it the only blastocyst we got, a little Grade 1 that grew into a Grade 3 Blastocyst. My women in Japan prefer natural IVF over chemical. I’m one of them because it worked for me.

Every women is different and what worked for one may not work for another. I hope my experience can help others. Here is a link to an article on Natural IVF for those who are interested.

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5 thoughts on “Natural IVF in Japan

  1. This is really good information to know! I didn’t even know natural IVF existed! I’ll pass this information on to the husband and see what he thinks. My main problem with IVF is all the drugs they give you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad this is helpful information.

      I’ve struggled with infertility for over five years of TTC. I didn’t know of natural IVF until a year and a half ago.

      None of the doctors at the other clinics ever mentioned or even suggested it!

      Few clinics want to do it because it isn’t as lucrative as chemical IVF.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry you’ve been through so much. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to come so close but then lose a baby at 17 weeks. I did read somewhere that women who manage to get pregnant at all with IVF have a better chance of it eventually working. That probably doesn’t offer much comfort though. I’ve been wondering recently whether natural IVF might be good in my case too. I’ve read it can be great for poor responders since the quality of the eggs aren’t affected. It takes way more cycles to work though. We made an appointment at another clinic further away from where we live and they offer it there so I’ll definitely be asking whether it might be something in my case.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It offers some comfort and hope. I just hope I have enough good eggs left to get a second chance.

      I am a very poor responder. Natural IVF is the only thing that ever worked for me.

      I do warn you of one thing about natural IVF. Some clinics will try to discourage it because it isn’t the cash cow that chemical IVF is.

      I hope you don’t run across that type. Of course, that type usually never offers it at all.

      Good luck to you! I hope you strike gold at your next clinic. *Thoughts and prayers*

      Like

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It must have been awful to lose your son so far along… I’m so sorry. I am also a slow responder with endometriosis. We were considering natural cycle IVF if we had gone private, but in the end we had a successful cycle from our final NHS “free” cycle where you don’t get to choose the protocol. If that hadn’t worked, I am pretty sure we would have pursued natural / mild IVF. I think it makes more sense. Wishing you lots of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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