Understanding the possible side effects of IVF treatment
IVF, or In Vitro Fertilisation, is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). During IVF, sperm from a woman’s partner or a donor is used to manually fertilise eggs. Couples facing infertility challenges have found success with IVF. The procedure would be perfect for couples facing the below-mentioned issues:
- Fallopian tubes that are harmed, obstructed, or missing
- Premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, or ovarian diseases
- a drop in sperm production or sperm motility
- Unaccounted-for infertility
Throughout the course of therapy, in vitro fertilisation requires a number of drugs. The use of these drugs carries the risk of adverse effects both during and directly after therapy. Most people, however, find that the benefits of IVF far outweigh any potential risks in terms of starting a family.
What kinds of adverse effects are possible with IVF medications?
An IVF cycle often uses injectable fertility drugs called gonadotropins. These drugs aid in promoting the development of several egg-bearing follicles in the ovaries. The ASRM brochure, Medications for promoting ovulation, contains a more thorough explanation of fertility drugs.
The following are potential negative effects of injectable fertility medications:
- Mild bruising and pain at the injection location (using different sites for the injections can help)
- Nausea, and occasionally vomiting
- temporary allergic symptoms, such as hives or skin reddening at the injection site
- Increased vaginal discharge and discomfort in the breasts
- Exhaustion and mood changes
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
The majority of OHSS symptoms (nausea, bloating, and ovarian discomfort) are moderate. Within a few days of the egg extraction, they typically disappear on their own. When OHSS is severe, the abdomen (belly) and lungs may accumulate a lot of fluid. This may result in significantly enlarged ovaries, dehydration, difficulty breathing, and excruciating stomach pain. OHSS can very infrequently cause blood clots and kidney failure (in less than 1% of women undergoing egg retrieval for IVF).
Ovarian cancer and the usage of reproductive drugs have been linked in earlier publications from decades ago. The usage of reproductive drugs and ovarian cancer, however, are no longer clearly linked, according to more recent and thorough research.
What are the potential risks of egg retrieval?
Your doctor will use vaginal ultrasonography to help guide the placement of a long, thin needle into each follicle of your ovary during the egg retrieval procedure. Risks associated with this technique include:
- Mild to moderate abdomen and pelvic pain (during or after). The majority of the time, over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to control the pain until it passes in a day or two.
- Injury to the blood vessels, bladder, or other nearby organs like the bowel. Rarely, injuries to the colon or blood vessels may necessitate immediate surgery and, in some cases, blood transfusions.
- Infected womb (mild to severe). Since antibiotics are typically administered at the time of egg collection, pelvic infections during egg retrieval or embryo transfer are now quite rare. Hospitalization and/or intravenous antibiotic therapy may be necessary for severe infections.
- Rarely, surgery may be necessary to remove one or both of the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and/or the uterus in order to treat a serious infection. IVF-related infections are more likely to affect women who have had pelvic infections or endometriosis that has affected the ovaries.
What are the risks of transferring an embryo?
The embryos are carefully inserted into the uterus using a catheter (womb). When the catheter is put through the cervix, some women may have mild cramping, and some women may experience vaginal spotting (slight bleeding) subsequently. An infection can very infrequently occur, but it is typically treatable with antibiotics.
Will doing IVF make my child more likely to be born with a birth defect?
Infertile patients have a slightly greater birth defect risk than the general population, which is between 2 and 3 percent. Delay in conception and the underlying factor causing infertility are primarily to blame for this risk. Research and debate are still ongoing to determine if IVF alone causes birth abnormalities. A higher risk of birth abnormalities could exist if intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used in conjunction with IVF.
Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage
The risk increases with the mother’s age, and the rate of miscarriage following IVF is comparable to the rate after natural conception. Women in their 20s may experience a miscarriage rate as low as 15%, while women in their 40s may experience a miscarriage rate of more than 50%.
With IVF, there is a very tiny risk of an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy (1%), but this rate is comparable to that of women who have experienced infertility in the past. If an ectopic pregnancy develops, a woman may be given medications to end the pregnancy or surgery to remove it. Call your doctor right away if you are pregnant and develop any of the following symptoms: a sharp, stabbing pain; vaginal spotting or bleeding; fainting; lower back discomfort; or low blood pressure (from blood loss). These all point to a potential ectopic pregnancy.
After IVF, there is a 1% chance of getting pregnant heterotopically. This occurs when one embryo implants and develops in the uterus at the same time that another embryo implants in the fallopian tube, resulting in a concomitant ectopic pregnancy. Surgery is typically required for heterotopic pregnancies (to remove the ectopic pregnancy). The womb pregnancy can typically continue to develop and mature safely after the tubal pregnancy has been removed.
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