Are there any risks with IVF treatment?

Are there any risks with IVF treatment? – Every treatment has its benefits and risks but the good news is that the risks with IVF are very small. There is no increased risk of a baby having an abnormality with standard IVF or frozen embryo treatment compared to natural conception.

The biggest risk with IVF is multiple pregnancy as the HFE Act allows transfer of up to two embryos in women under 40 and up to three embryos in women aged over 40. The risk of twins in IVF is one in five pregnancies compared to one in 60 natural pregnancies. Twin pregnancies are six times more likely to have complications such as premature delivery, low birth weight and cerebral palsy than a singleton pregnancy. Therefore, you may be advised to have an elective single embryo transfer (eSET) to minimize those risks. In certain cases the NHS will only fund elective eSET but you may also be entitled to a frozen embryo transfer if the eSET cycle is not successful.

There is a risk of over-response to the ovarian stimulation drugs leading to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This condition is rare, only 1 in 50-200 cycles but can be very serious needing hospital or even intensive care treatment. Your IVF may be cancelled or all eggs/embryos frozen if you are at risk of OHSS. There is also a risk of reduced response to the medication in which case your treatment may be cancelled and the drug regimen altered for your next attempt at IVF.

There is a 1 in 500 risk of pelvic infection and a 1 in 2,500 risk of serious hemorrhage as a result of the egg collection procedure. Long term studies have not shown an increased risk of ovarian, breast, cervical or endometrial cancers after IVF treatment. There may be a slight increase in the risk of borderline (not malignant) ovarian tumors after repeated courses of ovarian stimulation.

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