In vitro fertilization, more commonly referred to as IVF, is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) performed today. At the fertility center, Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC, in vitro fertilization may be recommended when a patient has been unsuccessful at achieving pregnancy after six to 12 cycles. IVF is comprised of a series of procedures to help a patient become pregnant. It may be used to treat a number of fertility problems including ovulation disorders, endometriosis, impaired sperm production, genetic disorders, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids, and unexplained fertility. It may also be used to preserve fertility.
The decision to undergo IVF is not an easy one. For many patients, IVF is a last chance at conceiving or carrying a child. Because of this, most patients find that the chance of a successful outcome outweighs the risks associated with the IVF process. With that being said, there are real risks associated with IVF. It is important that a patient is fully educated on both the benefits and risks of any treatment or procedure that he or she undergoes. The risks of associated with the IVF treatment process includes:
- Stress: The IVF treatment process can be quite stressful. IVF is an expensive, invasive, and an emotionally, mentally, and physically trying process. Having a good support system in place before undergoing the IVF process may help reduce stress during and after treatment.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): The ovulation-inducing medications administered during the IVF treatment process may cause a patient to develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
- Egg-retrieval: During the egg-retrieval step of the IVF treatment process, an aspirating needle is used to collect the eggs. Complications can occur during the egg-retrieval step. These complications include infection, bleeding, damage to the bowel, damage to the bladder, and damage to blood vessels.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Approximately two to five percent of women who undergo IVF and achieve pregnancy will experience an ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. Typically, with an ectopic pregnancy, the egg implants inside a fallopian tube. Sadly, a fertilized egg cannot survive when it implants outside of the uterus. Women who conceive without undergoing fertility treatment are also at risk for developing an ectopic pregnancy.
- Miscarriage: The risk of miscarriage increases with a woman’s age. Patients who are of advanced maternal age and achieve pregnancy with or without fertility treatment have an increased risk of miscarriage.
- Premature delivery: Patients who conceive through IVF may have an increased risk of delivering prematurely.
- Low birth weight: Patients who conceive through IVF may have an increased risk of delivering babies with low birth weights.
- Multiple pregnancy: A patient’s risk of multiple pregnancy increases when more than one embryo is transferred during the IVF treatment process. Multiple pregnancy increases a patient’s risk of delivering prematurely.
Learn More about the Risks Associated with IVF
While IVF is a highly successful process for many patients, it does have risks. At the Omaha fertility center Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC, IVF risks are discussed in detail to ensure the safety and comfort of each patient. If you would like to learn more about the risks and benefits of IVF, or to schedule a personal consultation, please contact our office today.