Apr 24

Understanding and Reducing Your IVF Risks

IVF Risks - San Antonio, TX

Posted on April 24, 2015 — by Joseph E. Martin, M.D., FACOG

Graphic illustration of sperm and egg on blue backgroundIf you have been unable to conceive naturally or by using other fertility treatments, IVF, or in vitro fertilization, may be able to help you achieve your family goals. This procedure can assist couples with various types of male and female fertility issues. Millions of babies have been born as a result of this sophisticated assisted reproductive technology (ART). However, IVF is a complicated and lengthy procedure, so it can involve certain side effects or complications. Our team of fertility specialists works to help our patients remain aware of potential IVF risks. To learn more about IVF risks, contact our San Antonio practice.

What Is Involved in IVF?

In vitro fertilization allows our fertility doctors to take control of the conception process to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. During IVF, the female patient will typically begin by taking drugs to stimulate ovulation. One of our specialists will then harvest these eggs, as well as the male partner’s sperm, and combine them outside the body in our lab. We will then place these fertilized eggs within the mother’s uterus in hopes that they will implant, beginning the pregnancy. The IVF process also allows us to test embryos for certain unfavorable genetic conditions or use donor eggs or sperm as needed. 

Risks of IVF

Overall, IVF is a safe and effective treatment for patients struggling with infertility. However, it can involve certain risks. These include:

  • Unsuccessful implantation. There are no guarantees with IVF. During each cycle, you may experience a 20 to 40 percent chance for conception, depending on your particular circumstances.
  • Multiple births. Our specialists implant several embryos during each cycle of IVF, increasing your chances for multiples. While many couples would be overjoyed to have two or more new babies, carrying multiple fetuses can increase the risk of premature labor and low birth weight. Women carrying a single fetus from IVF also have slightly higher risks for these conditions.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. Your fertilized egg could implant outside of the uterus. This fetus would not be able to survive and would need to be removed to protect the mother’s health.
  • Miscarriage. Since many women who undergo IVF are typically older, they have a slightly increased chance of miscarriage.
  • Birth defects. This risk is also related to the mother’s age. However, our team of specialists helps to reduce the chances for birth defects by providing preimplantation genetic testing, or PGD.  
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The hormones used to encourage ovulation can sometimes cause your ovaries to become inflamed and uncomfortable. This could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. While this condition is typically temporary (one to three weeks), it can also cause long-term weight gain and respiratory issues.
  • Egg retrieval complications. As a result of the egg retrieval procedure, you could experience infection, excessive bleeding, blood vessel damage, bowel issues, or bladder conditions.
  • Stress. While potentially very rewarding, IVF can produce emotional, financial, and physical stress in patients.

Optimizing Your Treatment

Working with a qualified, experienced team of fertility specialists like those at Fertility Center of San Antonio can lower your risk for side effects and complications. We will work closely with you throughout the process to help ensure that you remain comfortable and healthy. You can also limit your risks during IVF by following our doctor’s instructions, taking care of your body, and relying on friends, family, and our team members for support.

Learn More about IVF

For many of our patients, the benefits of IVF far outweigh the potential risks. To learn more about this treatment or find out how it can help you, please contact Fertility Center of San Antonio to schedule a consultation.

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