Ivf Side Effects

Are There Any Side Effects Of IVF?

There are several side effects of IVF a woman may experience. Most of these side effects are rather mild, if experienced at all, but there are some which, though rather rare, can be of some concern.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been successfully practiced since the 1980's, enabling hundreds of thousands of couples who were unable to become parents, to become parents though an avenue other than adoption. A pregnancy is possible through IVF by fertilized egg transfers, and through the use of medication which stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple eggs rather than the usual single egg. These medications are commonly referred to as fertility drugs. They are most often injected, and some will experience side effects from these injections.

Milder Side Effects - The milder side effects of IVF are headaches and mood swings, and perhaps occasional soreness or bruising at the site of the injections. Hot flashes and vaginal dryness are also among the more common side effects experienced. These side effects are generally fairly short lived and usually not a cause for any concern. There have been instances when women have had an allergic reaction to one of the more commonly used IVF medications, with the severity of these reactions ranging from mild to sufficiently severe to make continued use of the medication inadvisable.

Some women have developed cysts when taking IVF medications and in some instances these cysts have affected the hoped-for outcome. The cysts usually disappear on their own once medication ceases, but on occasion they do not, and aspiration of the cysts may be required.

Multiple Pregnancy Issues - Since IVF very often involves the insertion of two fertilized eggs to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, IVF increases the chances for multiple births, with up to a third of the births consisting of twins. In addition, the use of fertility drugs occasionally results in multiple pregnancies, the result being the birth of twins, triplets, or even more children. While a multiple birth is not usually considered an undesirable side effect of IVF, in a sense it is if the parents did not want or were not expecting more than a single birth, and the fact that multiple births often cause a great deal more stress on the mother. Also, the babies involved in a multiple birth are usually not as healthy as in the case of a single birth.

In a multiple pregnancy, the chances of miscarriage are increased as are the chances of hemorrhaging. The mother often experiences anemia, and multiple pregnancies have been known to induce high blood pressure, and at times have led to an onset of diabetes. Another of the possible side effects of IVF is a need for Caesarean section in the event of multiple births, with the procedure often required for delivering twins and almost always when delivering triplets is involved.

OHSS - One of the more serious side effects of IVF is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Nearly a third of women undergoing ovulation induction will experience OHSS to one degree or another, and in most cases the symptoms will be mild. In some cases however the condition can become quite severe, to the point of becoming life threatening. The usual symptoms are a bloated feeling along with slight abdominal swelling, often accompanied by varying degrees of discomfort. In more severe cases, fluids accumulate in the chest and abdominal cavities, and this accumulation of fluid can impair breathing as well as the ability to urinate, leading to possible kidney damage. The electrolyte balance in the body's fluids is also upset. When excess fluid in the body's cavities becomes a problem, hospitalization is usually required, and in more severe cases the pregnancy may be terminated.

In general, it's safe to say in the vast majority of cases of in vitro fertilization the side effects, if any, are seldom serious, and the rewards of successful IVF therapy are of course beyond measure.