9 Risks and Side Effects Associated With IVF
In vitro fertilisation has given hope to many mothers in the UAE, but it is not without its share of risks
23 June 2022
Understanding the possible concerns of getting IVF.
In vitro fertilisation, also known as IVF, has given hope to thousands of infertile couples around the world, but it is not without risks.
Dr. Gautam Nandkishore Allahbadia, one of Dubai's leading fertility specialists at MedCare, shared with us nine such risks and side effects of IVF.
Editor's note: This article is not meant to deter you from IVF, but to inform. IVF has helped produced thousands of successful pregnancies around the world. We highly recommend consulting with your doctor about IVF for more information.
1. Multiple births
IVF increases the risk of multiple births if more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus. A pregnancy with multiple fetuses carries a higher risk of early labor and low birth weight than pregnancy with a single fetus does.
2. Premature delivery and low birth weight
Research suggests that the use of IVF slightly increases the risk that a baby will be born early or with a low birth weight.
3. Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome
Use of injectable fertility drugs, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), to induce ovulation can cause ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome, in which your ovaries become swollen and painful.
Signs and symptoms typically last a week and include mild abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you become pregnant, however, your symptoms might last several weeks.
Rarely, it's possible to develop a more-severe form of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome that can also cause rapid weight gain and shortness of breath.
The rate of miscarriage for women who conceive using IVF with fresh embryos is similar to that of women who conceive naturally — about 15 to 25 percent — but the rate increases with maternal age. Use of frozen embryos during IVF, however, may slightly increase the risk of miscarriage.
5. Egg-retrieval procedure complications
Use of an aspirating needle to collect eggs could possibly cause bleeding, infection or damage to the bowel, bladder or a blood vessel. Risks are also associated with general anesthesia if used.
6. Ectopic pregnancy
About 2 to 5 percent of women who use IVF will have an ectopic pregnancy — when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. The fertilized egg can't survive outside the uterus, and there's no way to continue the pregnancy.
7. Birth defects
The age of the mother is the primary risk factor in the development of birth defects, no matter how the child is conceived. More research is needed to determine whether babies conceived using IVF might be at increased risk of certain birth defects. Some experts believe that the use of IVF does not increase the risk of having a baby with birth defects.
8. Ovarian cancer
Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more recent studies do not support these findings.
Use of IVF can be financially, physically and emotionally draining. Support from counselors, family, and friends can help you and your partner through the ups and downs of infertility treatment.