Possible Complications of IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a major fertility treatment that involves collecting sperm and eggs, fertilizing the eggs outside the body in a laboratory setting, allowing them to develop for approximately five days, and then placing the embryos directly into the woman's uterus.

The process is very expensive and there are some ethical concerns surrounding the procedure. But it is also the only way some couples are able to have children. IVF is generally a safe procedure, however there are some risks associated with it. The majority of the risks are connected to the use of ovulation stimulating drugs.

The Cancer Risk

There have been numerous reports in various legitimate medical publications and literatures evaluating the effect of ovulation stimulating fertility medications and ovarian cancer. Some studies suggest that the use of the drugs increases the likelihood of cancer while other studies refute this conclusion. Fertility drugs have been used for more than 30 years and the medical profession hasn't seen an unusual spike in ovarian cancer during these past three decades so, to date, it appears there's no connection. In the United States the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology continue to study any connection between cancer and fertility drugs used in IVF and other fertility treatments.


OHSS is an acronym for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It's a complication that can sometimes be caused by fertility drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than a woman would naturally create in a single cycle.

Mild to moderate cases are more common and usually resolve on their own. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, bloating and slight weight gain in mild cases. Women who have moderate OHSS can have excessive weight gain (two pounds or more a day), excessive thirst, dry skin and hair, less urine and unusually dark urine. Severe cases can be life threatening and include symptoms like chest and calf pain, lower abdominal pains, significant abdominal bloating and distention and shortness of breath. In some moderate and many severe cases hospitalization is required to closely monitor vital signs and symptoms and provide intravenous fluids.

Hemorrhaging and Infection

IVF egg collection can be done by passing a fine needle through the vagina and into the ovary, according to CRM London, the first ISO-certified IVF and fertility clinic in the UK. Doctors at the clinic say that with this procedure there is a small risk of an infection being introduced into your pelvis or bleeding from the ovary. Antibiotics are given to reduce the chance of infection and significant bleeding is rare although there may be a little spotting from the vagina after the egg collection procedure.

Multiple Pregnancies

The risk of multiples is higher with the more embryos that are implanted. The UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority advises that no more than two embryos be transferred per IVF cycle in women under 40. Exceptions are made for women over 40 who are undergoing the IVF process with their own eggs.


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