In the mild IVF study, Dr Shokichi Teramoto gave women at the Kato Ladies Clinic in Tokyo a short course of the fertility pill Clomid, followed by two or three days of hormonal jabs.
About 23% of women given mild IVF in the study had a baby and if used routinely, mild IVF would cut costs by around a quarter for tens of thousands of women, making it easier for couples to afford IVF and increasing the number of women that could be treated on the NHS.
In conventional IVF, women would have more than 40 egg-boosting injections over a month. The injections, used to boost the production of eggs and time their release, have been linked to some health problems – there is evidence to suggest they can damage a woman’s eggs, as well as the fertility of the babies they help produce.
Dr Geeta Nargund, head of reproductive medicine at St George’s Hospital in London, said mild IVF fits in with plans to limit most women to one embryo implanted at a time.
She said: “We are moving towards single embryo transfer in IVF, so fewer eggs need to be produced. This means we should use milder IVF rather than over-stimulating ovaries with high doses of drugs.”
She added that links between Clomid and ovarian cancer meant it should be used for a limited period of time, and that further large-scale studies are needed before Clomid is routinely used in mild IVF treatment.