Choosing to become a parent is a life-changing experience. The journey to get there looks different for everyone. Yearly, thousands of women and families decide to grow their families using an assisted reproductive method like in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
IVF is a popular fertility treatment that involves retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm. The fertilized eggs, or embryos, are then transferred into the woman’s uterus, where they may implant and develop into a viable pregnancy.
While IVF has helped many couples overcome infertility and achieve their dream of growing their family, it is not without risks and side effects. In this blog post, we will explore some of the potential IVF risks and side effects of IVF.
Read on to learn more.
It’s important to note that not all patients who undergo IVF will experience risks and side effects.
In fact, many families go on to have successful pregnancies and healthy babies after IVF. However, knowing the potential IVF pregnancy risks before undergoing treatment is essential.
Below we outline the most common IVF risks:
- Multiple pregnancies: IVF increases the chances of having multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets. Multiple pregnancies are associated with a higher risk of complications, such as preterm labor, low birth weight, and developmental delays.
- Premature delivery and low birth weight: IVF slightly increases the risk that the baby will be born early or with a lower-than-average birth weight.
- Miscarriage: About 15% to 25% of women who conceive using IVF with fresh embryos may experience a miscarriage. It is important to note that maternal age can also impact your miscarriage risk.
- Egg-retrieval complications: The retrieval procedure to collect eggs could lead to bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel, bladder, or a nearby blood vessel. During this procedure, there are also risks associated with sedation and general anesthesia if used during treatment.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): This is a potentially serious complication that can occur when the ovaries are overstimulated with medications used in IVF. Symptoms of OHSS may include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
- Ectopic pregnancy: IVF increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 2% to 5% of IVF treatments produce ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
- Birth defects: While the risk of birth defects is generally low with IVF, some studies have suggested a slightly increased risk compared to natural conception.
- Emotional and psychological effects: IVF can be emotionally and psychologically taxing on mothers, parents, and families, particularly if the treatment is unsuccessful. The stress and uncertainty of the treatment process can take a toll on mental health and well-being.
Potential Side Effects of IVF
The side effects of IVF vary from person to person. Some people may not experience side effects, while others can experience mild to moderate ones, especially after the procedure.
Typical side effects include
- Clear or bloody fluid shortly after the procedure due to the swabbing of the cervix before embryo transfer
- Breast tenderness due to high estrogen levels
- Mild bloating or cramping
Are IVF Pregnancies High Risk?
Generally speaking, IVF pregnancies are not necessarily considered “high risk,” but they carry a slightly higher risk of certain complications compared to natural pregnancies.
Many couples who conceive through IVF have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
Safe and Effective IVF Treatment is Here
IVF is a safe and effective fertility treatment, but it carries some risks and side effects like any medical procedure. If you or someone you know is a candidate for or interested in IVF treatment, we encourage you to speak with our fertility experts to discuss the potential risks and benefits of IVF based on your unique situation.
Our experienced team of specialists wants to make your fertility journey as safe and comfortable as possible.
We pride ourselves on doing everything we can to reduce IVF pregnancy risks and mitigate potential side effects of IVF by providing personalized care that meets your health and wellness goals.
Schedule a consultation with our team today to discuss the options available and determine if IVF is right for you.