Side effects and risks of in vitro fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment typically does not involve significant side effects or risks. For example, it does not affect a woman’s later hormone function, menstrual cycle, or the onset of menopause. The treatment also does not increase the risk of tumors.
During the treatment, there may be some discomfort and swelling in the lower abdomen as multiple follicles develop in the ovaries instead of just one. The procedure itself carries its own risks, with the most common being bleeding or infection.
The hormonal medications commonly used in treatments are generally well-tolerated, but they may occasionally cause mood swings in some individuals. Women respond to hormone therapy in a highly individual manner. For the majority of patients, the hormone dosage can be accurately determined based on factors such as age, weight, ultrasound examinations, and any previous treatments. However, for some patients, the response may be weaker, and hormone dosages may need to be adjusted.
The most serious risks and adverse effects are associated with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) caused by excessive ovarian stimulation and the risk of a multiple pregnancy if more than one embryo is transferred to the uterus at once.
Each IVF treatment is individually planned, and the progress of stimulation is monitored through ultrasound appointments. Especially women with polycystic ovaries may react more strongly to hormone treatment. In such cases, multiple dozens of follicles can develop in the ovaries. The ovaries become enlarged and swollen, and fluid may accumulate in the abdominal cavity. In mild cases, rest may be sufficient as a treatment, but in more severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Ovarian hyperstimulation does
not occur if the medication is administered in a controlled manner. When antagonists are used, hyperstimulation can be avoided almost entirely.
Naturally occurring twin pregnancies happen approximately in 1.5% of all pregnancies. Although the majority of multiple pregnancies proceed well, they are always associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth.
In IVF the risk can be avoided by transferring only one embryo at a time.