A common question amongst parents who have used IVF to get pregnant for their first baby is, “is it possible to get pregnant naturally after IVF?” The most basic answer to this inquiry is, yes, it is possible. However, there are no guarantees that a natural pregnancy will be achieved the second time around.
What The Experts Are Saying
According to Reuters, a study performed in France on about 2,100 couples found that “Among the parents who'd had a baby through IVF, 17% later had another child without assistance.”
Another study done by Monash University found that “One in three women who have their first baby through infertility treatment, become pregnant again naturally within two years of their first birth.”
Finally, the Human Assisted Reproduction Ireland, Rotunda Hospital in Dublin reported that after performing their own study, they found that of women who achieved their first pregnancy with IVF, “The rate of spontaneous conception among the survey respondents was 20.7%.”
Though the statistics from these studies are promising, it’s important to understand that women who have struggled with infertility prior to IVF, could again struggle with infertility when attempting to achieve a second pregnancy.
In an article on Essentially Baby, Dr. Sonya Jessup said the “chances of a second natural pregnancy occurring, relate to why IVF was needed in the first instance.” She went on to say that, “If the Fallopian tubes are blocked or the sperm count is extremely low, then the chances of a natural pregnancy occurring are very limited. If the original sub-fertility was relatively ‘unexplained’, however, I always counsel patients that subsequent natural pregnancies are quite likely.”
Jennifer L. Nichols, D.O., told FitPregnancy.com that “A diagnosis like endometriosis or unexplained infertility has a better chance of spontaneous pregnancies after fertility treatment.” She also said, "It is possible that pregnancy may improve the status of endometriosis,” and pregnancy “could improve the blood flow to the uterus and could affect anatomy therefore improving embryo implantation."
The Human Assisted Reproduction Ireland concluded “Younger women (</= 34 years of age) had a higher rate of spontaneous conception, as did those with a shorter duration of infertility. Women with unexplained infertility and endometriosis also were more likely to conceive.”
Unfortunately, the reality is that a successful pregnancy doesn’t always cure someone from infertility. The same causes of infertility prior to the first pregnancy could still be in play. However, there may be some ways you can increase your chances of a natural pregnancy after a successful IVF pregnancy.
Increasing Your Chances of Natural Pregnancy After IVF
Dr. Jessup recommends first aiming “to return to a normal BMI after the baby is delivered to assist with natural ovulation, and start trying for the next baby as soon as it is deemed sanely possible.”
According to Parents Magazine, women hoping to achieve a natural pregnancy after IVF should:
- Eat well, getting plenty of protein and vitamins
- Stop drinking, and quit smoking
- Avoid pesticides and herbicides
- Know your cycle of ovulation and menstruation
- Use caution with lubricants (i.e. read the label to ensure they're spermicide free)
- Stay as stress-free as possible with meditation and low impact exercise like yoga
Women’s Health Magazine also suggests cutting back on caffeine, and taking prenatal vitamins.
A study from Columbia University suggests that you might want to nix gluten as well, as up to 6% of women with unexplained infertility may in fact have celiac disease.
When Is It Time to Seek Help for A Second Pregnancy
As we suggested in one of our other posts, “Most fertility doctors and advocacy organizations recommend trying for no more than a year before seeking help. If the woman is over the age of 35, then seek help after six months.” The same holds true when trying for baby number two. If you and your partner have been trying a while, it may be time to see a specialist.
In the event you would like to learn about visiting with one of our physicians for a consultation, or want to discuss other treatment options, we are here to help you in your journey of achieving pregnancy.