The terms short and long protocol IVF, refer to the length of IVF cycles. Long protocol (long cycle IVF) refers to the traditional form of IVF treatment. Short protocol (short cycle IVF) was introduced later and, at first, it was believed to be less effective than long protocol. Recent studies show that there is actually little difference in clinical outcomes, other than that patients undergoing short cycle are less prone to hyperstimulation.

What is the same with the 2 protocols?

·      Gonadotrophins are taken for between 10 and 14 days (depending on the protocol). These will stimulate the growth of the follicles in the ovaries, ready for egg collection

·      Internal scans will be conducted every few days, to monitor the growth of the follicles

·      An injection will be given to trigger maturation of the eggs and induce ovulation

·      36 hours after the trigger injection, egg collection will take place

·      The eggs will be placed in a special dish in the laboratory, along with the sperm and then put in an incubator. With ICSI, a single selected sperm will be injected directly into each egg

·      Laboratory experts will monitor the development of any embryos

·      If any viable embryos are created, then embryo transfer will take place 5 days after egg collection

·      At least 7 days after embryo transfer, you will be invited by the clinic to take a pregnancy test. It’s important todo this using the clinic test, as the hormones used in treatment may give a false negative or a false positive with a home pregnancy test kit

A couple discussing IVF treatment

What are the main differences between the 2 protocols?

The medication used for both protocols is the same, but the doses and time period differ.

Long protocol lasts 4-6 weeks, whereas short protocol lasts 2-3 weeks.

Long protocol involves down-regulation, suppressing the hormones usually released during your menstrual cycle and preventing ovulation.

What are the benefits of short protocol IVF?

·      There is less risk of OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). OHSS can cause serious side effects and in some cases fatality.

·      With less medication, there are fewer side effects

·      It involves less appointments, so it is easier to fit in around work

·      It can result in better quality eggs

Who is short protocol/short cycle IVF sometimes recommended for?

·      Women who have responded poorly to along protocol

·      Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and other conditions that may put them at risk of OHSS

·      Older women


Who decides which protocol should be used?

Based on your medical history, your consultant will establish which protocol will be the most effective for you and they will explain why. At this point, you can ask any questions that you may have.

Here at The IVF Network, we understand the emotional and physical challenges faced by people undergoing IVF treatment. It is a complex process and there is a lot of information to take onboard. You may have many questions after your appointment and looking for answers via search engines, while you wait to speak to your fertility consultant again, can be overwhelming. At the IVF Network, we keep up-to-date with key medical developments in the field of fertility and conception, social changes and new reports and statistics, so that we can pass this information on to you. Through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, we break down the information into manageable chunks, to help you to make more informed choices on your personal fertility journey.


‘Long Protocol and Short Protocol’ Harley Street Fertility Clinic 09/6/2022


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