Dec 24

IVF and the Risk of Multiples

San Antonio IVF and the Risk of Multiples

Posted on December 24, 2014 — by Joseph E. Martin, M.D., FACOG

Two IVF babies, one boy and one girl, sleepingIn vitro fertilization, or IVF, is one of the most technologically advanced and highly effective forms of fertility treatment yet to be developed by modern medicine. IVF has helped millions of people to realize their dreams of overcoming infertility and introducing a precious new life into the world. Truly, it has been a miracle.

Nevertheless, all medical procedures carry some degree of risk, and IVF is no exception. The most common risk associated with the procedure is the risk of multiples pregnancies. At the Fertility Center of San Antonio, IVF and the risk of multiples is discussed in detail with patients during consultations so that couples can make informed, confident decisions about whether to proceed with treatment. Our team of fertility specialists includes some of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and highly esteemed experts in the nation, and they believe wholeheartedly in the value of patient education. Our patients emerge from their consultations knowing exactly what to expect before, during, and after IVF.

The Relationship between Cost and the Risk of Multiples

It is possible to lower the risk of multiples by keeping the number of embryos to a minimum during an IVF cycle. However, because the cost of each IVF cycle is relatively expensive, many people choose to maximize their chances of success by transferring more embryos than would otherwise be recommended, even though they understand that they are increasing their risk of multiples.

Ironically, although these parents-to-be may be saving money in the short term by minimizing the number of IVF cycles they have to undergo to achieve successful pregnancy, they risk having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the course of a lifetime to raise an additional child, or potentially more in the case of triplets or quadruplets.

The Risk of Multiples Pregnancies

Multiples pregnancies are by nature riskier than singles pregnancies. The possible risks include:

  • Premature birth: Approximately 60 percent of multiples are born prematurely, which increases the risk of birth defects substantially.
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS): Roughly 10 percent of identical twins have TTTS, in which the blood vessels within the placenta that provide blood flow to the fetuses do not distribute that blood evenly. One fetus gets too much blood while the other gets too little. As a result, both fetuses are at danger of dying.
  • Low birth weight: More than 50 percent of all twins are at risk of being born weighing less than five and a half pounds.
  • Pre-eclampsia: This is a condition in which the mother develops high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling of the legs, which endangers both her and her child. Women with twins are twice as likely to develop pre-eclampsia.

Learn More about IVF and the Risk of Multiples

Fortunately, at the Fertility Center of San Antonio, we have methods of reducing the risk of multiples pregnancies among our IVF patients. To learn more about these methods, as well as about the risks and benefits of IVF, please contact our fertility center today.

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