As people all over the world turn to In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, to help make their dreams of becoming parents a reality, more and more people are learning about the risks and side effects of this procedure. If you are considering IVF, then it’s important that you are aware of any problems that you might experience so that you can be sure you choose the right option for you.
What Is IVF
IVF is the process where a doctor removes eggs from a woman, combines them with a sperm sample in a laboratory, and then manually places them back in the uterus after they have been combined. This is a great way to treat infertility that may be caused by past damage to the fallopian tubes, ovarian disorders, low sperm count, premature ovarian failure, fibroids, or any other unexplained fertility. There are a number of different factors that will come into play and determine the success of IVF, including the age of the patient, the cause of infertility, reproductive history, and overall health and lifestyle factors. Even with some issues for some women, IVF is considered to be a great treatment for women who are suffering from infertility.
The Steps of IVF
There are five steps to IVF to ensure the best possible chance of a pregnancy:
- The woman who is undergoing IVF needs to take fertility medications. This ensures egg production so that the doctors are able to remove a number of eggs. The ovaries are examined via a transvaginal ultrasound and hormone balances are checked with a blood test.
- Eggs are removed using a hollow needle that is inserted through the pelvic cavity. Patients are given medication to help with discomfort and pain. This procedure generally doesn’t take very long and is only performed once the doctor can verify that there are enough eggs available to take.
- The male partner provides a sperm sample that will be used to combine with the eggs.
- The eggs and sperm are mixed together and then stored in a laboratory for fertilization. If the chance of natural fertilization is low then the sperm is injected directly into the eggs. They are then monitored for cell division.
- Around 3-5 days after retrieval and fertilization, eggs are inserted to the woman’s uterus. This is completed via a small tube or catheter and may cause some cramping, but it is otherwise not painful.
Side Effects of IVF
When women undergo IVF in Bangkok, they will be able to resume their normal activities the day after the procedure. There are some side effects that are very common, such as a passing of fluid, bloating, mild cramping, constipation, and breast tenderness. These need to be monitored but aren’t usually a cause for concern. As long as the side effects don’t get worse, the woman experiencing them should be able to engage in normal activities and simply monitor the side effects to ensure that they remain the same or lessen in time.
However, there are other side effects that are a little more concerning and need to be addressed by a doctor immediately to ensure the continued health of the patient. Being aware of these side effects and knowing when to call for help is important and can save a life. A fever that spikes over 100.5 F, heavy bleeding, blood that is in the urine, and pelvic pain are all side effects that can be a problem.
Women also need to be aware that there are some side effects to the fertility medication that they take before the procedure. These medications are used to stimulate egg production to ensure that there are enough eggs available for retrieval, but while they are doing that, they often cause other side effects as well. Headaches, mood swings, hot flashes, abdominal pain, and abdominal bloating are all common side effects that many women experience. A rare side effect of this medication is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, also called OHSS.
Risks of IVF
It’s important to be aware of the fact that all medical procedures are going to carry some level of risk. This doesn’t mean that you need to avoid IVF, but just that you need to be aware of the problems that you may face. Some of the most common risks include vomiting, nausea, shortness of breath, feeling faint, not urinating as frequently, pain in the stomach, gaining more than 5 kgs in a few days, and bloating. Any of these symptoms need to be checked out immediately, as your doctor will be able to determine if you are in danger of major medical problems.
Of course, there are more extreme risks that can pose larger problems. These include damage to the bladder or the bowel while the egg is being retrieved. Additionally, when women undergo IVF, they are much more likely to deliver multiplies. When a woman carries more than one fetus, then the babies are at risk of being delivered prematurely and having lower birth weights.
There aren’t increased risks of a miscarriage with IVF, but women who are older are at a higher risk. This is important to be aware of, as many women who undergo IVF are older, which naturally makes them a little more likely to experience a miscarriage.
Ectopic pregnancy can occur with IVF, although the risk of it is very small. This is when the fetus doesn’t develop inside the uterus, but it instead implants and develops in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the uterus. The chance of this occurring is around 2-5%.
Finally, these procedures tend to be very expensive and also incredibly stressful on both the woman and her partner, if she has one. Financial problems and emotional stress can really take their toll on the body and are often implicated in failed IVF. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that you are aware of the stress, risks, side effects, and cost of IVF so that you can be prepared for the stress that you will feel during this time of your life.