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Is IVF safe?

The mother’s safety and health during fertility treatments is just as important as her baby’s. So, is IVF safe? After all, the baby home for the first nine months of its life is the mother’s womb! It is completely normal to worry about your health and safety as a mother undergoing IVF. It’s not like IVF has been around for centuries, and frankly, it can seem a little intimidating at first! But we’re here to break down the few complications that are associated with IVF and whether they’re something to really worry about. If you’re interested in knowing whether IVF is safe or not, you might also be interested in learning whether it’s a painful process. Head over to our blog post about that exact topic to find out the truth! Now let’s get into it!

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The complications

So what exactly are the complications?

  • Egg retrieval complications: when the eggs are retrieved, an aspirating needle is usually inserted into the vagina. The problem with this, however, is that the needle can cause some bleeding, infection or other types of damage to the ovaries, bowels, bladder or nearby blood vessel. If the damage to a blood vessel is too severe, the patient might require blood transfusion or immediate surgery.
  • Cancer: this one’s got a bit of grey area. There are studies that either link IVF/fertility medications used prior to IVF to various types of cancer, do not link them, or require further research. In fact, we have an article all about IVF and cancer. Check it out!
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: this is a condition where the patient experiences swollen and painful ovaries. This normally occurs as a result of the injectable fertility medications you take that are used to stimulate the ovary. Symptoms may probably last a week but if the cycle results in pregnancy, it’s likely that you’ll see the symptoms stick around for several weeks. They include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes there is a very severe version of the condition where you could experience shortness of breath or rapid weight gain but it’s very rare.
  • Embryo transfer complications: there isn’t much to worry about here! When the catheter is inserted into the uterus you may feel slight pain. There might be a bit of vaginal bleeding or an infection could arise. The latter can be treated with the use of antibiotics.
  • Side effects regarding the injectable fertility medications: you might experience some side effects as a result of using the medications. These include breast tenderness, increased vaginal discharge, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and allergic reactions at the injection site.

Consulting your physician

The complications I have listed here are somewhat generalized. It is important to understand that every patient is different and has different medical history, allergies, conditions, etc. So it is important to confide in your physician to know is IVF safe! Ask them and find out if your medical history poses any concerns if you pursue IVF. One patient might experience a complication or side effect while another may not. That’s the beauty of medicine though, isn’t it? Lots of fertility clinics understand that fertility treatments aren’t a one size fits all. We’ve come a long way in medicine to ensuring that patients have a personalized experience! So never be afraid to ask your doctor questions or be embarrassed that you’re asking too many. Knowledge is power-the power to take control of your fertility journey.

References:

  1. “In vitro fertilization (IVF) – Mayo Clinic.” 22 Jun. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/about/pac-20384716. Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.
  2. “In vitro fertilization (IVF): What are the risks?.” https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/in-vitro-fertilization-ivf-what-are-the-risks/. Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.
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