The Risks Of IVF
IVF is a very safe procedure and complications are rare. But all medical treatments carry some risk. With IVF, the complications may stem from the medications used in conjunction with the actual procedure, or from the procedure itself.
The medications that stimulate ovulation prior to IVF have known side effects as do all drugs. The side effects of these drugs include:
*Soreness or slight bruising at the site of injection. Varying the injection sites is helpful.
*Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This condition occurs when stimulation is too successful. The ovaries produce a large number of follicles which swell to unusual proportions. In most cases, OHSS resolves with no need for treatment. But in severe cases of OHSS, there may be an extreme enlargement of the ovaries, fatigue, dehydration, and accompanying fluid found in large amounts within the lungs and abdomen. In less than 1% of female IVF candidates, OHSS may lead to kidney failure or blood clots.
Some outdated reports have suggested a link between IVF and ovarian cancer; though recent studies have not found supporting evidence for any association between ovarian cancer and fertility drugs.
In the procedure known as egg retrieval, the physician will use vaginal ultrasound to guide a needle from the vagina into the ovary. The needle is inserted into the follicles where egg-containing fluid is aspirated. During this time, you'll receive sedation or anesthesia to minimize discomfort. The risks involved during this procedure include:
*Discomfort which may be mild or moderate, during or after the retrieval
*Injury to organs in close proximity to the ovaries, for instance the blood vessels, bowel, or bladder
*Ovarian bleeding or bleeding from the blood vessels of the pelvis. Bleeding is almost always mild.
*Pelvic infection is rare but when it does occur can be quite severe and may require intravenous antibiotics or even surgery to remove infected reproductive organs.
During embryo transfer there may be a slight cramping sensation as the doctor inserts the catheter into the cervix. After the transfer you may have some mild cramping and spotting or bleeding may occur. In rare cases, infection may develop and this is treated with antibiotic medication.
By now, your doctor will have mentioned to you the risks of multiple pregnancies resulting from the IVF procedure. There may be twins or higher order multiples. The risk for multiples increases with the number of embryos transferred to the uterus. Multiple pregnancies carry multiple risks including:
*High blood pressure
*Premature labor which may pose a risk to the infants
Your doctor will transfer the lowest number of embryos possible in order to prevent multiple pregnancy. In the event that you do become pregnant with multiples, you should consult a specialist in the field of maternal-fetal medicine who will have received training in managing high-risk multiple pregnancies. You may decide to undergo a fetal reduction to improve your situation and that of the babies you carry.