IVF (Invitro Fertilization) is a fertility treatment many couples with fertility issues undergo to become pregnant. So far, millions of couples worldwide have become parents thanks to this method.
Though the treatment is quite popular in achieving excellent results, many people still hesitate to undergo it as they doubt its safety measures. They feel the IVF treatments are unsafe and will harm the mother and child.
So, is IVF safe or unsafe? Continue reading as we delve deeper into the topic and understand IVF better.
Why is IVF Safe?
IVF is a relatively safe procedure and has no serious aftereffects. It is a technologically advanced procedure and is done under the careful observation of the doctors.
IVF doctors also assess the mother’s health condition and suggest medications or lifestyle changes to tune their body and mind for the treatment. You will be constantly monitored throughout your IVF cycle.
IVF treatments also ensure that the resulting babies are normal without any physical or chromosomal abnormalities. The embryos undergo various tests like PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) and embryo grading to ensure the embryo transferred is of the best quality.
With good care and support from your loved ones, women can undergo the procedure as smoothly as a natural pregnancy.
Understand the Procedure of IVF to know IVF is Safe
IVF involves a series of procedures that need to be done with expert care and precision. To understand why IVF is safe, you should know what happens during each procedure.
Step 1: Ovarian Stimulation
This is the first step of the IVF treatment. In this procedure, the female partner will be given hormonal injections to stimulate their ovaries to produce more mature eggs.
On average, the doctors can collect around 6 to 10 eggs after ovarian stimulation. Having more eggs for fertilization increases the chances of having a successful pregnancy.
Step 2: Egg and sperm retrieval
Once the eggs are mature enough, they will be collected from the ovaries through a suction device inserted through the vagina. The procedure is done under general anesthesia, so you don’t need to worry about pain or discomfort.
Simultaneously, the sperm is also collected from the male partner. They are collected through ejaculation or through a procedure called testicular sperm extraction (TESE). These sperm are sent for analysis, and the best sperm among them are separated.
Step 3: Fertilization
Once the eggs and sperm are collected, they are fertilized in the laboratory. There are two ways IVF fertilization can be done.
- Traditional IVF method, where the eggs and sperm are placed on a lab dish together. Fertilization happens when the sperm swim and fertilize the eggs by themselves.
- ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), where a single, healthy sperm is selected and injected into the egg’s cytoplasm for fertilization. This is done in cases of male factor infertility.
Step 4: Embryo culture
After fertilization, the eggs are monitored routinely for development for 3 to 5 days. The best one or two embryos among them will be selected for embryo transfer.
Step 5: Embryo transfer
In this procedure, the selected one or two embryos will be transferred into the woman’s uterus for further development. A catheter is used to collect the embryos and transfer them into the uterus through the vagina.
Pregnancy happens when the embryos successfully implant into the uterine lining.
Factors that Affect IVF Safety
Though IVF is a safe procedure, there are some factors that may affect its success rate and safety. Below are some of them.
Age: A woman’s fertility decreases, and her age increases. Older women also have a higher chance of chromosomal or other abnormalities when undergoing the procedure.
Fertility drugs: Some women may react excessively to fertility drugs, which can cause issues like OHS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.)
Health condition: A woman’s health condition can also cause some complications during the procedure. Women with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other genetic issues have a high risk for complications.
Fertility center: The fertility center couples choose to undergo IVF also plays a part in their safety. Choose a fertility center that has experience and expertise in conducting IVF treatments.
After How Many Weeks Is an IVF Pregnancy Considered Safe
An IVF pregnancy can be considered safe and successful once the transferred embryo has been implanted into the uterus. This takes about 7–10 days after embryo transfer.
Women who underwent IVF treatments can test their pregnancy about 2 weeks after embryo transfer. They will mostly get their results during this time.
If they are not sure about the results of the pregnancy kit, they can also visit their hospital and take a blood test or ultrasound scan to confirm their pregnancy.
IVF Safety Concerns
Many couples who wish to undergo IVF have some safety concerns about the treatment regarding the mother and the child. Below are some common concerns people seeking the treatment have.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
This is a condition in which the ovaries become swollen and painful. This is caused when the ovaries react excessively to the fertility medications administered during ovulation stimulation.
This happens when the embryo implants outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes. When the embryos are transferred into the uterus, there are chances for them to travel past the uterus and implant somewhere else.
This can increase the risk of complications like preterm delivery and low birth weight. However, the chance of multiple pregnancies has considerably decreased thanks to developments in IVF technology, such as single embryo transfers and pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS).
There are also some people who fear that IVF can cause some birth defects. Since it is an artificial procedure, some fear that the resulting baby will have physical or psychological defects.
IVF Safety Measures
Although uncommon, the above concerns can be controlled through routine observation and with the right medical care. Fertility centers pay close attention to the patient’s health and ensure no risks occur during the treatment.
Doctors will also regularly screen both the patient and the developing embryo for abnormalities and take countermeasures to overcome the issue. The tests include screening for genetic abnormalities, diseases, hormonal changes, and the functions of the uterus.
The egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures are also done under mild anesthesia. So, there is no need to worry about pain.
Though doctors play a major part in ensuring the procedure goes smoothly without any complications, the couple undergoing the procedure must also do their part to minimize them.
Certain changes like lifestyle changes, shifting to a healthy diet, and other measures need to be done to ensure a safe and successful IVF pregnancy.
They should also consult their doctor and check for any complications like ectopic pregnancy after their pregnancy is confirmed. IVF is an important procedure, and any misstep can harm the mother and child. So, each step should be taken carefully.
Yes, IVF is safe for both mother and baby. The risk of complications arising during the procedure is very low. Patients need to discuss the process in detail with their fertility doctor and take the necessary measures to undergo a safe and successful procedure.
Most babies conceived with IVF are equally as healthy as those conceived naturally. Additionally, the babies born from IVF pregnancies are just as intelligent and physically fit as those born naturally.
Women will be administered mild anesthesia during the egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures. So they don’t need to worry about pain. However, they may experience some after-effects like bloating, cramps, infection, or bleeding. These side effects are minor and disappear after some time.
It is difficult to conclude an answer as both are entirely different ways of becoming pregnant. Those who can conceive naturally can choose a natural pregnancy. They don’t need to undergo IVF.
IVF is recommended for couples with fertility issues who can’t become pregnant even after trying for a long time. They have a higher chance of becoming pregnant through fertility treatments like IVF.