Are there any risks in an IVF procedure?

Ectopic Pregnancy

Though In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other fertility procedures are quite common these days, there are a few risks involved in these procedures. It is important to know and understand this risk before taking up the procedure. Please ensure that your doctor informs you of the risks and side effects and you know understand them completely well before going ahead with one.

1. Risk of multiple births

Multiple Births - Risk of IVF

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This is the most common risk associated with any fertility procedure. Usually, in order to improve a couple’s chances of success during an assisted reproductive procedure, more than one embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus. While this increases the chances of success, it also comes with the risk of multiple births.

In countries like the United Kingdom, there is an official regulation which restricts the number of embryos (only one embryo per cycle) being put into the woman’s uterus. However, in these developed countries, infertility treatments are covered by government healthcare policies. Due to lack of such facilities in India, couples spend their own money to undergo an infertility treatment. Due to high costs, patients are unwilling to limit their chances to one embryo. 

So, in India, a good fertility centre is one which tries to balance this risk by transferring two or three embryos during one procedure. 

2. The fertility medication during the course of treatment has several side effects

Side Effects of Fertility Medications

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During the entire IVF (or other fertility procedure) cycle, a woman has to take a combination of fertility medication and injections to stimulate ovulation and produce mature eggs. These drugs are not without side effects. These drugs carry the risk and complication of hot flashes, enlargement of the ovaries and ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. Apart from this general irritability and mood swings are common. There is also a possibility of ovarian tumors. 

3. Risk of a ectopic pregnancy 

Ectopic Pregnancy

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With an infertility procedure, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is also existent. In an ectopic pregnancy, an embryo implants in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. The foetus will not survive an ectopic pregnancy and the cells must be removed to ensure the safety and well-being of the mother. The area may also rupture and can lead to a shock in which emergency medical attention is required. 

The sings of an ectopic pregnancy include abnormal bleeding, amenorrhea, tenderness in the breasts, and signs of rupture such as fainting, pressure in rectum, severe lower abdominal pain etc. So, ensure that you quickly alert your doctor if you face any of these.