under 36 seeking IVF for the first time are given a mild dose of injectable fertility drugs. If at least eight eggs are retrieved, half undergo traditional IVF, and half use the simpler method.
A specialist who doesn't know which technique was used picks the best-looking embryo to be transferred.
For the more than 100 women treated so far, the pregnancy rate was about 34 percent for both methods. So far, 14 babies have been born using the simplified method and 13 babies from traditional IVF.
The World Health Organization estimates there are between 120 and 160 million couples struggling with infertility worldwide.
"Nobody thinks that infertility in developing countries is a problem, but it is an even bigger problem there than in (the West)," WHO reproductive health expert Sheryl Vanderpoel said.
She said more people in developing countries have complications from untreated infections, including sexually spread diseases, than in the West, which can hurt their fertility.
"Making IVF affordable is a public health priority," she said.
Dr. Hassan Sallam, director of the Alexandria Fertility and IVF Center in Egypt, said the cheaper IVF method would be welcomed. He said there is considerable social pressure on young Egyptian couples to have children - and that is compounded by the fact in rural areas, many newlyweds live with the man's family.
"All eyes are on the newlywed couple to see if pregnancy has happened after the first month," he said in an email.
He said couples married for two to three months occasionally come to see him "just to please their in-laws."
Although the new IVF strategy is intended for use mainly in developing countries, doctors in rich countries are also interested.
"You should not have to be rich just to have IVF," said Dr. Geeta Nargund, medical director for Create Health Clinics, a private fertility center in London. "There are so many people who cannot afford the treatment (in the West) that there would be huge demand if there were something cheaper available."
In many European countries, national health systems pay for several IVF cycles for eligible couples but it can cost more than $10,000 for those seeking it privately. For many