In vitro fertilization is an infertility option for couples who have problem conceiving through normal intercourse. However there are several associated risks of IVF that you should be aware of. In this procedure, egg cells are retrieved from the mother’s body and are fertilized outside her body. Semen is also taken from the husband. Over 75, 000 sperm are collected for every 1 egg cell.
Both the sperm and egg cell are incubated for about 18 hours. During incubation, the sperm should fertilize the egg in the usual way. But if there are problems causing unusual fertilization to occur (e.g. abnormal sperm heads), then assisted fertilization techniques may be used. Sperm may be injected directly into the egg via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) techniques. The fertilized egg is then transferred to a special growth medium. It will be closely monitored there for about 40 hours. The fertilized eggs will have become pre-embryos by then.
Other than the fact that In Vitro Fertilization is expensive and requires multiple procedures before having a successful conception, the risks of IVF means that it also has physical hazards to the mother and to the baby born out of the IVF procedure.
Stimulation Related hazards
Your ovaries have to be stimulated before egg cells can be collected from them. Ovarian stimulation can actually result in a condition where the ovary becomes inflamed, the abdomen is bloated and becomes tender, and in rare cases, liver and kidney disorders follow. Other stimulation hazards include local adverse and allergic reactions to injections and can be life threatening.
Retrieval Related hazards
There have been cases where the ovary bleeds while the eggs are being collected. The needle used to extract the eggs may have punctured blood vessels causing the ovary to bleed. Although needle pricks are self healing, you may still be at a risk of having an infection or have allergic reactions to the sedative or anesthetic used.
Embryo Transfer Related hazards
After the egg cells have been fertilized, the strongest embryo is selected for transfer to the uterus. Sometimes, embryo transfers can cause cervical and uterine irritations.
Risk of Multiple Pregnancies or an Ectopic Pregnancy
The general practice is for multiple fertilized eggs to be transferred during Embryo Transfer. This increases the chances of a successful uterine implantation. Because a lot of fertilized eggs are injected into your ovum, you are at a higher risk of having multiple pregnancies, that is, twins, triplets, quintuplets, etc. As well as other risks of IVF you are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy than women who have a natural pregnancy.
Increased Risk of Bearing Children with Birth Defects
Couples who have undergone In Vitro Fertilization to conceive and bear a child are more likely to have a baby with birth defects. It has been recently found out by scientists in Atlanta that IVF babies are about 30 % more likely to be affected with certain health problems and genetic defects than babies born from a natural pregnancy. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is currently researching the link between risks of IVF and increased birth defects in newborns.
Infertility can be symptomatic of a lot of underlying health problems and deficiencies. Emotional problems, unhealthy lifestyles and poor diet may cause a couple to have difficulty conceiving. It is common for a couple to have all or some of these problems and so treating their fertility problem requires a multi-faceted approach. Dealing with these problems and meeting the needs of the mother, father and the child is the core of natural infertility treatment.
Related to natural infertility treatment is natural childbirth, also called un-medicated birth. More often than not, doctors prescribe pain medication to relieve some of the pain associated with labor and childbirth if requested by the mother. There are many infertility treatment options to choose from so make sure to do your research on the risks of IVF before investing your time, effort and money.
Iva Keene is co-founder and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She has been a qualified, accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 13 years, holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva's articles, videos, guides and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments and integrative reproductive health.