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IVF Treatment : Risk and Side Effects you Should Know

09 May, 2023

Blog author iconObaidullah Junaid
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A medical treatment called in vitro fertilisation (IVF) aids couples who are unable to have a child naturally. A laboratory dish is used to fertilise an egg with sperm, and the resulting embryo is subsequently placed inside the woman's uterus. Despite the fact that IVF has assisted countless couples in realising their dream of starting a family, it is crucial to realise that the technique does have dangers and side effects that you should be aware of before deciding to pursue it. In this blog post, we will discuss the potential risks and side effects of IVF treatment so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is the right choice for you.

What is IVF?

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Procedure

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process where an egg is fertilized with sperm outside of the body, in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, or embryo, is then transferred to the uterus, where it may implant and grow into a pregnancy. IVF is used for a variety of reasons, including infertility, genetic disorders, and fertility preservation.

Risks of IVF Treatment:

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Multiple Pregnancies:

The possibility of multiple pregnancies is one of the biggest dangers associated with IVF treatment. IVF often involves transferring more than one embryo to the uterus to increase the chances of success. However, this also increases the risk of having twins, triplets, or even more babies. Multiple pregnancies can increase the risk of complications such as premature delivery, low birth weight, and developmental issues.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS):

OHSS is a potential side effect of the medications used during IVF treatment to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. In some cases, the ovaries can become swollen and painful, and fluid can build up in the abdomen and chest. Severe cases of OHSS can lead to blood clots, kidney failure, and other life-threatening complications.

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Ectopic Pregnancy:

When the fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, it is called an ectopic pregnancy. IVF increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy because the embryo is transferred directly to the uterus, bypassing the fallopian tube, where fertilisation typically occurs.

Birth Defects:

While the risk of birth defects associated with IVF treatment is generally low, some studies have suggested a slightly higher risk compared to natural conception. This is thought to be related to factors such as the age of the mother and the use of certain medications during IVF treatment.

Emotional and Financial Stress:

IVF treatment can be emotionally and financially stressful for couples. It can take a while, and there is no assurance that it will be successful.The financial cost of IVF can also be significant, and some couples may struggle to afford the treatment.

Side Effects of IVF Treatment:

Hormonal Side Effects:

The hormones used during IVF treatment can cause a range of side effects, including hot flashes, headaches, mood swings, and fatigue. These side effects are usually temporary and will subside after the treatment is complete.

Pain and Discomfort:

The egg retrieval process used during IVF treatment can cause pain and discomfort, including cramping and bloating. Some women may also experience pain or discomfort during the embryo transfer procedure.

Bleeding and Spotting:

It's not uncommon for women undergoing IVF treatment to experience some bleeding or spotting after the embryo transfer procedure. This is usually mild and will subside on its own.

Infection:

As with any medical procedure, there is a risk of infection associated with IVF treatment. This can occur during the egg retrieval or embryo transfer procedure and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Emotional and Psychological Distress:

The process of IVF treatment can be emotionally taxing, and many couples experience stress, anxiety, and depression during and after the procedure. The stress of multiple treatment cycles and the uncertainty of the outcome can take a toll on mental health.

Bleeding and Spotting:

Bleeding and spotting are common side effects of IVF treatment. This can be caused by the medications used to prepare the uterus for embryo transfer or the procedure itself.

How to Minimise Risks and Side Effects:

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimise the risks and side effects associated with IVF treatment.

Choose a Reputable Clinic:

Choosing a reputable IVF clinic is critical to ensure that you receive the best possible care. Look for a clinic with a high success rate, experienced doctors and staff, and positive patient reviews.

Follow Your Doctor's Instructions:

It's essential to follow your doctor's instructions carefully, particularly when it comes to taking medications and attending appointments. Skipping doses or missing appointments can impact the success of the treatment and increase the risk of complications.

Know the Risks:

Educate yourself on the potential risks and side effects of IVF treatment before starting the procedure. This will help you make an informed decision and take the necessary precautions to minimise risks.

Consider Single Embryo Transfer:

While transferring multiple embryos can Boost success rates, it also raises the risk of multiple pregnancies. Speak with your doctor about the possibility of a single embryo transfer, which can reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies while maintaining a high success rate.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:

Your chances of having a successful IVF procedure can be increased, and the risks and side effects can be decreased, by leading a healthy lifestyle. Consume a balanced diet, work out frequently, and abstain from alcohol and smoking.

Take Breaks Between Cycles:

If you need to undergo multiple cycles of IVF, consider taking a break between cycles to allow your body to recover and reduce the risk of complications.

Seek Support:

IVF treatment can be emotionally challenging, so it's important to seek support from friends, family, or a support group. You can also consider talking to a mental health professional who specialises in infertility.

Final Thoughts:

IVF treatment can be a life-changing experience for couples who struggle with infertility. While there are risks and side effects associated with the procedure, many couples have successfully conceived and delivered healthy babies with the help of IVF.

It's important to remember that everyone's experience with IVF treatment is unique, and the risks and side effects will vary depending on individual circumstances. Therefore, it's essential to discuss your options with a qualified healthcare provider, understand the potential risks and benefits, and take steps to minimise risks and improve your chances of success.

If you're considering IVF treatment, take the time to educate yourself, seek support, and make an informed decision that is right for you and your partner. With proper care and guidance, IVF treatment can help you achieve your dream of starting a family.

It's also worth noting that there are alternative treatments and procedures that may be suitable for some couples, depending on their unique circumstances. These can include intrauterine insemination (IUI), donor eggs or sperm, surrogacy, or adoption.

Conclusion

In conclusion, IVF treatment can be a challenging and emotional journey, but it can also be a path to fulfilling your dreams of starting a family. While there are risks and side effects associated with the procedure, with proper care and guidance, the benefits can outweigh the potential drawbacks. By educating yourself, seeking support, and taking the necessary precautions, you can improve your chances of success and minimise the risks and side effects associated with IVF treatment. Remember to always consult with a qualified healthcare provider and take care of yourself both physically and emotionally during this process.

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FAQs

The most frequent side effects of IVF treatment include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can lead to bloating, discomfort in the abdomen, and fluid retention; multiple pregnancies, which raise the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight; and ectopic pregnancy, which happens when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus.