There are so many articles and advertisements all over the world about a fertility procedure called the in vitro fertilisation or IVF. Stories about IVF pregnancy journeys, pregnancy rates, and factors that affect IVF success rates are aplenty. But have you noticed that so little information has been published about IVF side effects and risks? Let us help you dig deeper into the nitty-gritty world of IVF.
Common IVF side effects and risks
We all know that there are so many risks associated with pregnancy. With IVF, these risks and potential side effects increase. Here are some of the most common IVF side effects and risks as determined by recent fertility studies.
During the embryo transfer phase of IVF, the number of embryos implanted in the mother’s uterus depends on you and your fertility expert’s discussion. Your fertility specialist may inform you that there is a higher possibility of pregnancy if more than one embryo is transferred. However, he must also tell you that in doing so, the chances of having twins, triplets, or so on may also be possible. You must weigh the consequences and the reward of implanting more than one embryo so that you can also curb your expectations.
Fertility drugs side effects
During the pre-IVF procedure, your fertility specialist may prescribe fertility medications that may help make your body conducive for the pregnancy. Drugs in the form of pills or injectables have potent ingredients that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs and prepare the uterus for implantation. We have listed down different fertility medications and their potential side effects for your reference.
Clomid/Serophene (Clomiphene citrate). Your IVF doctor may prescribe you with this type of pill to aid with your fertility if you experience irregular ovulation. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) often get prescribed with this medication to enable the brain to produce hormones necessary for egg production. Common side effects reported while using this drug are hot flashes, vision disturbance, headache, nausea, and bloatedness.
Gonal-F/Follistim/Menopur/Luveris (gonadotropin injections). Some doctors use these injections instead of the pills mentioned above. These vary in their composition depending on the hormone your body needs. Different combination of GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), or hMG (human menopausal gonadotropin) are prepared to deliver said hormones directly to the body. When taking this injection, be aware that it may cause the risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) where the ovaries are too sensitive from the stimulation, making them produce eggs more than expected.
Novarel/Ovidrel/Pregnyl (hCG hormonal injections). While this type is also a hormone injection as the name implies, its action is a bit different from the others in that it affects the maturation and release of the eggs from the ovaries. IVF doctors advise the use of this injection at least a day before harvesting your eggs for fertilisation. Its side effects include all those mentioned above like risk for OHSS, headache, nausea, blurring of vision, and hot flashes. Women also complain of breast tenderness, irritability, and a feeling of restlessness while under this medication.
Miscarriage or preterm delivery
IVF success rates are mainly measured by the positive pregnancy tests brought about by IVF. Unfortunately, a lot can still happen during the nine months of pregnancy, and it may sometimes lead to miscarriages or abortions. These incidents are still considered unsuccessful IVF procedure per live birth rate.
There are some women, however, who complete the pregnancy but delivers before her due date. Research shows that instances like these are common when the pregnancy was a product of IVF.
How to reduce IVF side effects and risks
Although your IVF journey, or your pregnancy as a whole, is an uncertain territory, there are still ways to help prevent IVF side effects and risks.
Communicate with your doctor. Good discussion about your expectations, overall medical condition, and your step-by-step IVF procedure eliminates miscommunication and lets you create a trusting and informative environment.
Single embryo transfer. This way would eliminate the risk of having multiple pregnancies that can pose danger to the mother and baby.
Emotional support. The IVF procedure is a tedious and stressful journey not only for the aspiring mother but for the couple who wishes to become parents-in-the-making. The close bond between the couple and strong moral support from family and friends may help lessen the emotional burden of this delicate pregnancy.