IUI And Multiple Birth Risks
IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a popular infertility treatment since it is a more simple procedure than some other infertility procedures, and since it costs much less. In IUI, sperm from a woman's partner or from a sperm donor are placed directly into the uterus via a thin catheter in order to increase the chances of fertilizing an egg and of becoming pregnant.
Despite its simplicity, however, just like any medical procedures, there are risks associated with IUI. Couples who are exploring this option should do their homework and be aware of both the benefits and the risks of IUI.
The potential risks of the IUI procedure include:
•1) Infection; 2) Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS); 3) Multiple Births.
How Does IUI Lead to Multiple Births?
Although fertility drugs are not always used in conjunction with IUI, doctors offend recommend that women also take fertility medication for the purpose of stimulating the ovaries to produce more eggs and to thus enhance a woman's chance of becoming pregnant. Fertility drugs that are commonly used alongside IUI include Clomid and gonadotropins.
However, fertility drugs are also known to significantly increase the risk for multiple births (twins and triplets) or for higher-order births, and multiple births can be hazardous for both mother and baby.
Multiple Birth Risks
Multiple pregnancies and births pose risks for the mother, for the pregnancy, and for the baby. The following are some of the potential hazards:
Risks for Mothers: Miscarriage, early labor, increased chance of developing preeclampsia (also called Toxemia or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension) and gestational diabetes, heightened level of stress, potential for becoming overwhelmed with the task of caring for more than one baby.
Risks for the Pregnancy: Stillbirth, premature birth, miscarriage.
Risks for Babies: Premature birth, which increases the risk for babies to have cerebral palsy, underdeveloped and weak lungs and major organs, learning disabilities, developmental delays, and other short- and long-health problems.
It is estimated that the risk of becoming pregnant with twins while taking Clomid is 10%, while the risk of becoming pregnant with triplets is less than 1%. On the other hand, women who take gonadotropins in conjunction with IUI have as much as a 30% chance for multiple and high-order pregnancies and births.
Decreasing Multiple Birth Risks
To decrease the risk of multiple births, many doctors prescribe lower doses of fertility drugs whenever possible. In addition, early detection and treatment can lower risks, and thus doctors should carefully monitor a woman's cycle and her blood and estrogen levels throughout her pregnancy, and conduct tests such as an ultrasound to measure the size of the ovaries and determine the number of developing follies (or potential eggs).
Finally, women should seek expert prenatal care by a physician or by a fertility specialist, who can help reduce the risks that accompany multiple pregnancies.