Infertility Treatment Complications

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Sperm injection into oocyte

Any medical procedure or medication involves some risks, however small. Certain complications exist with the treatment of infertility.

These include:

Multiple Pregnancies

The most common complication of ART is multiple pregnancies. The number of quality embryos kept and matured to fetuses and birth ultimately is a decision made by the couple. If too many babies are conceived, the removal of one or more fetuses (multi-fetal pregnancy reduction) is possible to improve survival odds for the other fetuses.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

If over stimulated, a woman's ovaries may enlarge and cause pain and bloating. Mild-to -moderate symptoms often resolve without treatment, although pregnancy may delay recovery. Rarely, fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity and chest, causing abdominal swelling and shortness of breath. This accumulation of fluid can deplete blood volume and lower blood pressure. Severe cases require emergency treatment. Younger women and those who have polycystic ovary syndrome have a higher risk of developing OHSS than do other women.

Bleeding or infection

As with any invasive procedure, there is a risk of bleeding or infection with assisted reproductive technology.

Low birth weight

The greatest risk factor for low birth weight is a multiple pregnancy. In single live births, there may be a greater chance of low birth weight associated with ART.

Birth defects

Fears that having a baby by IVF increases the risk of complications before, during and after birth are unfounded, according to a study of more than 1.2 million births in Norway. Previous studies have suggested that children conceived artificially are more at risk of low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth or death shortly after birth. However, the new, more sophisticated analysis found that these extra risks are the fault of existing fertility problems in the parents and not the techniques used during IVF and other assisted fertilization methods.

A 2009 Harvard study also showed that IVF birth rates are quite high.

Lower your risk

To minimize your risk of complications, follow your pharmacist's and physician's advice carefully and adhere to all suggested protocols. If you begin experiencing unanticipated side effects, call your health care provider.


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