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Houston Fertility Center

The Risks of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on September 15, 2013

The Risks of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)One of the most popular fertility treatments that is offered today is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This has helped many people start the family of their dreams. It's important to us that patients understand both the risks and benefits of IVF treatment, as this helps provide realistic expectations about the procedure and what is actually entailed in the process.

The team at our fertility center would like to take a few moments right now to go over the basics of IVF, with special focus on the risks associated with the procedure.

About In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

It may be helpful to go over the basics first. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment that involves the harvesting of eggs from the ovaries and the fertilization of these eggs in a controlled lab setting. The embryos are then placed in the womb to be carried to term.

Ideal Candidates for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

The best candidates for in vitro fertilization (IVF) are people who have attempted to become pregnant by natural means for at least a year but have had no success. When you meet with a fertility specialist, other considerations for treatment will be discussed, such as age, health of the eggs, and other matters.

Common Risks Associated with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

All medical procedures entail some degree of risk and in vitro fertilization (IVF) is no exception. Below are some of the most common risks associated with IVF:

  • Multiple pregnancy (i.e., twins, triplets, etc.) - Multiple embryos are placed during the IVF procedure, meaning that twins or triplets are more likely to occur with IVF
  • Premature birth - There are times that IVF can result in premature delivery of a child
  • Low birth weight - Since premature delivery is a possibility linked to IVF, so is a chance of low birth weight
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome - Fertility drugs are used to stimulate ovulation, leading to discomfort, nausea, slight weight gain, and other symptoms

In addition to the above, there is a chance of birth defects and ectopic pregnancy that can occur. In the case of the former, the age of the mother and the quality of the eggs is often a determinant. As for ectopic pregnancy, this tend to be a very rare risk of IVF, occurring in just 2 to 5 percent of women who undergo IVF.

Can these in vitro fertilization (IVF) risks be minimized?

Yes. In the case of birth defects, the eggs and sperm can be screened to prevent genetic disorders being passed on to the child. Older women who are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) may want to consider an egg donor since birth defects and other complications are often associated with eggs from older women. Similarly, gestational carriers may be considered if women are not well-suited to carry a child to term on their own.

As for issues related to multiple births, these can be minimized through single embryo transfer. The downside is that with few embryos transferred, the success rates of IVF are affected.

All of these matters as well as many others can be discussed in greater detail during your visit to the practice.

Learn More About In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

If you would like additional information about in vitro fertilization (IVF) as well as the many other options out there for advanced solutions of infertility, be sure to contact our Houston and Sugar Land fertility treatment centers today. Our entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you start the family that you have always wanted.

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