The risk of multiple pregnancies with IVF treatments is significant as it accounts for about 25% of twin pregnancies, versus that of 2% in the general population with natural conception. Heartland Fertility conforms to the national and international guidelines on the number of embryos to transfer and generally recommends the transfer of only one day 5 embryo (blastocyst) during each cycle, thus reducing the risks of multiple pregnancies. However, the decision is individualized and may result in less or more embryos being transferred, depending on what is thought to be the best choice for your particular situation.
In approximately 5% of the cases treated, an IVF cycle can be cancelled due to a poor response to ovarian stimulation. Poor response is usually identified during the stimulation process (Stage 2), thus cancelling the IVF cycle before entering the triggering or maturation phase (Stage 3). After a cycle has been cancelled, the patient should meet with their physician in order to review what happened and to discuss other potential treatment options that are appropriate for their situation.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
The risk of ovarian hyperstimulation is 1 to 3%. It is defined as an abnormal increase of the size of the ovaries during stimulation or in the days following egg retrieval. Fluid build up in the abdomen or lungs, dehydration and bloodwork abnormalities often accompany this syndrome. Other symptoms include bloating, fever, nausea, diarrhea and breathing difficulties. Hyperstimulation can be caused by medication and/or the secretion of the pregnancy hormone (hCG) produced during the implantation of one or several embryos during the embryo transfer stage (Stage 5).
Some have suggested that In Vitro Fertilization leads to a higher percentage of miscarriages. However, studies show that the number of miscarriages following IVF is not higher than that found in the general population.
The rate of premature deliveries and Cesarean sections is slightly higher with IVF. Premature deliveries are most often associated with multiple pregnancies, which occur more frequently with certain fertility treatments. These outcomes have also been found to be higher in couples with a history of infertility that then conceived spontaneously.
As for the risks of birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities, certain studies indicate that these may be higher than that found in the general population. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss them with your physician. They will be able to talk through any concerns you may have.