Besides the typical side effects of headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, there are many dangerous risks to using in vitro fertilization, or IVF. The risks associated with this treatment can directly impact both the mother and the baby created. It is impossible to know all the side-effects and many statistics are unavailable, due to the fact that IVF is a new technology. However, the known serious risks that accompany IVF are as follows:
Risks for the Mother
1. Bleeding, infection, and damage to the bowel:
Researchers at Mayo Clinic state that the egg retrieval process always carries this risk. An aspirating needle is used to collect the eggs. This can cause severe injury inside of the woman.
2. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (HCG):
According to researchers at Mayo Clinic, the fertility drugs injected into a woman’s ovaries can cause them to swell and become very painful. This can last a week to several weeks, and can sometimes cause rapid weight gain and shortness of breath. The US National Library of Medicine says that 3-6% of women undergoing IVF experience this syndrome.
According to researchers at Mayo Clinic, the rate of miscarriage for IVF users is 15-20%. However, the chance of a miscarriage also increases with maternal age, and with the use of frozen embryos.
4. Ectopic pregnancy:
Mayo Clinic reports that about 2-5% of woman may experience an ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo implants itself outside of the uterus and cannot survive. Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous for women.
5. Ovarian cancer:
According to a study published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction, researchers in the Netherlands tested 25,152 women who experienced fertility problems. Out of the 77 women who developed cancer, 61 of them had used IVF. The lead researcher, Professor Van Leeuwen, of the Department of Epidemiology in The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, says:
“Our data clearly show that ovarian stimulation for IVF is associated with an increased risk of borderline ovarian tumors and this risk remains elevated up to more than 15 years after the first cycle of treatment.”
6. Emotional Stress:
“Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive, and invasive.”
The cost of a single IVF cycle typically ranges from $12-$17 thousand dollars.
As reported in Science Daily, another study conducted in the Netherlands found a higher death rate for women with IVF pregnancies than for pregnant women in the general population. Specifically, there were 42 deaths per 100,000 IVF pregnancies, in comparison to six deaths among 100,000 normal pregnancies.
In an editorial for the British Medical Journal, Dr. Susan Bewley, obstetrician at Kings College in London, along with other experts, warned that although they may be infrequent, deaths related to IVF are a reality. Older women, women with multiple pregnancy, and those with underlying diseases are most likely at risk. They also argue that the dangerous side-effects to IVF, like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, should be systematically reported and addressed.
Risks for the Baby
1. Premature delivery and low birth weight:
A recent study performed on 12,287 babies produced through IVF published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that IVF babies are at a significantly higher risk for being born premature and with a low birth weight. The researchers also state:
“Early preterm delivery, spontaneous preterm delivery, placenta previa, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and neonatal intensive care admission were also significantly more prevalent in the IVF group.”
They later recommend,
“In vitro fertilization patients should be advised of the increased risk for adverse perinatal outcomes. Obstetricians should not only manage these pregnancies as high risk but also avoid iatrogenic harm caused by elective preterm labor induction or cesarean.”
2. Birth Defects:
Dr. Maureen L. Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, documents in an in-depth report the serious health risks to babies produced in vitro. She states the following:
“While most human infants born as a result of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are healthy by most measures, a growing body of data indicates that children produced in the laboratory are at significantly greater risk for a wide range of medical issues, including neurological disorders, cancer, congenital abnormalities, and imprinting disorders.”
A study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found that babies conceived through IVF had a 25% increased risk of birth defects, in comparison to children conceived naturally.
Dr. Condic also says that scientists are only now beginning to see the negative repercussions of Assisted Reproductive Technologies. This is due to the fact that the individuals produced by these technologies are finally reaching adulthood, and the complications and side effects are just beginning to be made manifest.
Are there alternatives to IVF?
There are in fact alternatives to In Vitro Fertilization. These alternatives preserve and protect human life, are safe for women and children, and have relatively higher rates of success.
One option that is always available for infertile couples is adoption. When a couple chooses to adopt, they give a child the gift of a home, a family, and most especially, love. If you are interested in adoption, you can learn more at:
Bethany Christian Services: 1-800-Bethany (1-800-238-4269)
American Adoptions: 1-800-236-7846
Adoption Center of Illinois: 1-800-676-2229
In addition to adoption, there is a new women’s health science called Natural Procreative Technology, or NaPro, which has proven to be a successful alternative for couples with fertility challenges. Scientists take a fertility-care based approach, rather than a fertility-control approach. Surprisingly, women with several types of fertility challenges have shown significantly higher pregnancy success rates when using NaPro, in comparison to IVF. If you would like to learn more about this fascinating new technology, visit: www.NaproTechnology.com .