Friday Fertility Fundas: What are the risks associated with IVF treatment?
Our expert tells you about the risks associated with IVF treatment
Fertility is a topic that most people shy away from talking about. But when it comes to burning questions that you are just too shy to ask someone face to face, we have the answers for you; answered by our expert Dr. Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility
What are the most common myths surrounding this kind of treatment?
Side effects and risks of IVF
IVF brings a ray of hope to multitudes of couples who have been struggling for a pregnancy. It is very important that you are fully informed about the pros and cons involved in the process. Yes, as with any other treatment, there are side effects associated with IVF, usually these are mild but can be distressing if they happen unexpectedly. Being well informed about these beforehand will help you cope better if they do occur.
Mild reactions to fertility injections are common and expected and may involve, hot flashes, headaches, abdominal pain or bloating, restlessness, mood swings, or even feelings of irritability. When pain or discomfort is severe it’s best to let your doctor know, so that any further serious problems like Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can be avoided.
OHSS is a rare but potentially dangerous. It is an over response of the ovaries to fertility medications. If in addition to the discomfort and bloating, if you have pain or shortness of breath or reduced urination, you must let you doctor know immediately.
Miscarriage and Ectopic pregnancy
IVF does not increase the risk of miscarriage. The rates are no more higher than after natural conception.
An ectopic pregnancy is when the pregnancy implants in the fallopian tube. This can rarely happen in IVF, especially if too many embryos are replaced at a time, one of these might migrate to the tube. We routinely transfer only 2 embryos or 1 blastocyst to avoid this complication.
Premature births and low birth weights
There is some research to suggest that IVF babies tend to be of a lower birth weight than naturally conceived babies. Low birth weight is only associated with fresh embryo transfers and not with frozen transfer babies.
Multiple gestations are known to have risks for both the mother and the babies. There is increased risk of miscarriages, preterm birth, preeclampsia, diabetes, hypertension in pregnancy to name a few. We can reduce this risk by transferring only 1 or 2 embryos at a time.
Risks with egg collection
Egg collection is performed under short general anesthesia. Mild cramping, bloating and some spotting vaginally may occur after the procedure. Very rarely there may be a risk of bleeding and ovarian haematoma formation.
Irregular periods after IVF
After an IVF cycle the first natural period may be early or delayed, may be shorter or longer than expected and it may indeed be heavier than usual. This will happen with almost all, rarely, the irregularity may last for up to 3 to 4 months. Most will settle around this time, if not it is advisable to inform your doctor and rule out any other cause for irregular periods.
Having listed the above I will say that these risks are rare and can be treated completely. You need to voice your concerns and questions so that they can be addressed in time. Through IVF is not easy, in the right hands you should feel safe, supported and hopeful.