In-vitro fertilization is an assisted fertilization technique. It involves the extraction of eggs from the woman and retrieval of sperm from the man. This is then fertilized manually in a laboratory dish and implanted back to the woman’s womb for continuous development of the embryo/embryos.
The average success rate of IVF using own eggs starts to drop at about 30 and drops faster in the mid-30s and early 40s. The success of IVF is better in women who have gotten pregnant before compared to those who have never gotten pregnant. In-vitro fertilization has improved the chances of many couples to have children. It, however, comes with its own risk and side effects.
Some side effects that can occur as a result of the procedure include;
- Breast tenderness
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
Some side effects are due to the hormonal injectable the woman takes to stimulate ovulation includes;
- Mood swing
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal pain
- Rarely ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which presents as enlarged ovaries, ascites, diarrhea, hemoconcentration, respiratory distress and decrease in urine output. The symptoms depend on the severity of the syndrome.
Risk factors of IVF
- Higher chances of multiple gestations: Around 20-30% of IVF pregnancies can result in multiple pregnancies. This is because more than one embryo is usually transferred into the woman. Multiple pregnancies are health risks to both the mother and the baby. There is a higher chance of premature labour, miscarriage, need for caesarean, stillbirth and infant health problems with multiple pregnancies.
- Infection: There can be an infection during the process of egg collection and embryo implantation.
- Failure: The chances of a woman having a live birth is about 30%. It is dependent on the age of the woman, viability of the eggs and sperm. In addition, smoking, alcohol, being obese can also contribute to failure rate of IVF.
- Rupture of the bowel or bladder during the procedure
- Difficulty in breathing, chest infection, allergic reactions to medication, or nerve damage can result if the laparoscopic method is used to collect the eggs and to implant the embryo.
Other associated disadvantages of in-vitro fertilization include;
- Higher chances of ectopic; Although this is not directly related to the procedure, it is higher in older women and women with damaged fallopian tubes who use IVF to conceive.
- Increased chances of premature delivery due to higher exposure to oestrogen during the ovarian stimulation phase.
- Expensive: The cost of IVF is on the high side in various parts of the world. This prevents it from being easily available to infertile couples.
- Ovarian cancer: This is a rare complication of IVF. It can result due to the excessive stimulation of the ovaries.