In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that requires collecting eggs and sperm from the female and male partners and fertilizing them in a laboratory. This method is usually recommended for couples with fertility issues or those who cannot conceive naturally.
Throughout the years, millions of couples have benefited through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to start the family of their dreams. Yet there are still misconceptions about what it is and who it is for, despite its widespread use.
In this article, let’s look at some of the widespread myths about IVF treatments and clear the long-held misconception about them.
6 Most Common Myths About IVF
Myth 1: IVF is the First Line of Treatment for Infertility
Fact: No, IVF is only recommended for couples who have undergone all other fertility treatments like medication, surgeries, and IUI and yet were unable to get pregnant. Fertility doctors often consider IVF as the resort when all other treatments do not give the desired results.
As for the other fertility treatments, you can undergo surgery to correct structural issues or take drugs (medication) to balance hormones. Another option is Intrauterine Insemination Treatment (IUI), in which sperm from a donor or partner is inserted into your uterus for fertilization.
You may not need IVF to conceive a healthy child unless you or your partner have genetic problems or you both are a same-sex couple. Only after thoroughly evaluating both your and your partner’s fertility conditions will doctors recommend IVF.
Myth 2: IVF Guarantees Pregnancy
Fact: No, IVF does not necessarily guarantee a pregnancy. Any fertility procedure, including IVF, cannot ensure pregnancy anywhere in the world. The most crucial thing to understand about IVF is that it isn’t always successful and that going through the process can be expensive, time-consuming, and can even affect you emotionally.
The female partner’s age is the most crucial factor in determining the likelihood of a successful IVF cycle. Most factors that can affect IVF success are out of your control. However, there are other methods you can follow to improve your chances of success, including a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, taking fertility supplements recommended by the doctor, etc. Of course, the fertility clinic and doctor you choose to consult for your issues will also matter.
Myth 3: IVF Always Results in Multiple Births
Fact: In the past, fertility clinics used to transfer several healthy embryos into the uterus to maximize your chances of having a live birth. However, in the years that followed, technology has improved, and doctors have come to realize that implanting several embryos is actually dangerous for both the baby and the mother.
Carrying more than one embryo may raise your risk of miscarriage or premature birth. Unless you choose otherwise, fertility clinics only choose one healthy embryo at a time for implantation. At most, doctors will implant two embryos to increase the chances of pregnancy.
Myth 4: IVF Causes Cancer and Other Serious Health Risks
Fact: IVF requires you to take drugs to trigger the ovulation process and collect the eggs for fertilization. But don’t worry, these medications are mostly harmless. There might be some cases of cancer or other diseases in those who have taken these medications for a long time, but it does not happen to all.
Each person is different, and the way the medication affects them also varies. While weight gain is a common symptom of these drugs, there is very minimal to no evidence that can prove that these drugs can cause cancer.
More than 48.5 million couples have used IVF to conceive children globally. In the years after the treatment of these couples, no studies have identified an elevated risk of cancer.
Myth 5: IVF is Only for Older Couples
Fact: IVF can be done by couples of any age with fertility issues. Several factors, some of which can often impact both men and women in their early reproductive years, contribute to infertility. Young women are frequently affected by conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, which can affect fertility.
A woman’s fertility may also be significantly impacted by other medical diseases, including cancer or autoimmune diseases. Additionally, behavioural and environmental factors can also affect fertility. While it is true that ovarian reserve decreases with age, particularly around the mid-thirties, there are also young women with lower egg reserves.
Myth 6: You can do IVF at any age
Fact: A woman’s reproductive system ages as she ages. You might not be able to produce enough eggs, even with all the IVF medications, to develop a healthy embryo. Or perhaps your uterus isn’t strong enough to implant the embryo and bear a child to term.
Women under the age of 35 have a higher chance of successfully conceiving through IVF than women over that age. As women age, their ovarian reserve and egg quality also deplete.
A woman’s chances of having a successful IVF are also influenced by other factors. Some couples also experience difficulties that increase the likelihood of requiring numerous IVF cycles.
Similar to natural pregnancy, there is no assurance that IVF will be successful. Fertility doctors will describe the odds of success based on your and your partner’s age and health conditions.
IVF is a harmless fertility treatment that can have different side effects for different women. The medication or other procedures that are harmless to some women may have some side effects on other women.
The success and health issues you may experience due to the treatment are entirely dependent on your health condition. So, there is no need to pay heed to some misconceptions that some may have about the treatment.
Consult your fertility doctor and have clear discussions on which treatment can give you the best results. Remember that IVF is not the only fertility treatment. Only choose IVF if other fertility treatments do not help you get pregnant.
Frequently asked questions
IVF accounts for over 99% of all fertility treatments. For women under the age of 35, it has a 50% success rate (i.e., it results in a live birth). Multiple IVF cycles also improve the likelihood of success. For women who undergo up to six rounds of implantation, the success rate is closer to 65%.
The IVF process, as a whole, is not painful, though patients may experience slight discomfort or mild side effects during the medication, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer procedures.
IVF pregnancies are not considered high-risk unless the parent has an existing health condition or other factors that can weaken their body. For example, advanced maternal age, high blood pressure, or multiple births can be possible risk factors for the parent.
When it comes to success in IVF treatments, the younger, the better. You have a higher chance of pregnancy through IVF if you do it before you reach the age of 35. The success rate decreases as your age increases.
You can do a pregnancy test about 9 to 14 days after embryo transfer. You can visit your fertility doctor and do a checkup to see if the IVF treatment was a success.