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IVF Side Effects

IVF & Egg Retrieval Side Effects: An Overview

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a widely accepted and well-adopted procedure for treating infertility. It is regarded as a safe and effective procedure that can help attain pregnancy. However, all medical procedures do carry a certain amount of risk and side effects. These IVF side effects may be due to

  1. The hormonal medications taken
  2. The dose of the medication
  3. The way your body reacts to the medication.

Most of the IVF stages are performed in the laboratory. Nevertheless, side effects may be seen during ovary stimulation, egg retrieval and embryo transfer as these stages involve the use of medications and minimally invasive techniques.

It is necessary to note that side effects and risks involved in IVF highly depend on the physical conditions and how the body responds to the IVF medications. Owing to advancement in technology in IVF treatment, there are methods that can address the IVF medication side effects and risks involved.

IVF Side Effects and Egg Retrieval Side Effects

1. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS):

During the ovary stimulation process, women are exposed to fertility medications that are necessary to stimulate the development of eggs. OHSS is a condition characterized by swelling of ovaries that can become painful due to the IVF medications. Ovarian stimulation side effects are mostly mild but in very rare cases, severe OHSS effects are observed.  OHSS can be managed by change in medication after stimulation. It is also observed that embryo transfer if delayed until the ovaries are no longer enlarged can give better results. Freezing the embryos can benefit while there is a delay in embryo transfer.

2. Risks of Egg Retrieval (Egg Retrieval Side Effects):

During the egg retrieval, minor surgery is performed under sedation to carefully remove the eggs. A long and thin needle is inserted through the vagina with a transvaginal ultrasound probe. into the uterus to retrieve eggs from the follicles. Some of the possible egg retrieval side effects and risks can be :

  • Mild/moderate abdominal pain
  • an injury to organs or blood vessels near the ovaries
  • pelvic infections- a very uncommon risk

These side effects are addressed with prescribed medications.

3. Risks Associated with Embryo transfer:

Usually, viable embryos are transferred into the uterus through the vagina with the help of a catheter. Sometimes, women may feel slight cramping during the insertion of a catheter or may even have vaginal bleeding after the procedure which can be managed through necessary medications.

4. Other IVF medication side effects:

Estrogen is required to maintain the endometrial lining of the uterus that allows implantation. Some of the Estrogen side effects during IVF are Vomiting, bloating, weight gain, breast pain, etc. 

Progesterone in the form of injections or vaginal capsules are usually administered after embryo transfer till the date of the pregnancy test. Some of the IVF side effects due to progesterone shots are pain, swelling or knots at the injection site, nausea, cramps, mood swings, etc. In the case of vaginal capsules, vaginal itching or burning can be seen.

The side effects of hormonal injections are very rare. Administration of these hormonal medications will require vigilance of the IVF specialist who can guide you on the dosage and requirement of medications.

5. Miscarriage:

It is rarely observed that miscarriages are associated with IVF. However, early loss of pregnancy through IVF can be due to an implantation dysfunction (a problem related to uterine receptivity) or any chromosomal anomaly in the embryo.

Several methodologies have been employed and offered to improve the receptivity of the uterine lining like Hysteroscopy ( a minimally invasive surgery), hormonal therapy, adhesiolysis (a surgery done to remove scars formed after a surgery).

Detection of chromosomal anomalies in the embryo can be done by preimplantation genetic diagnosis/screening (PGD/PGS). Early detection of these genetic defects can improve the chances of a successful IVF.

6. Ectopic Pregnancy:

Ectopic pregnancy is a condition where the embryo implants itself outside the uterus. According to a study, the chances of ectopic pregnancy due to IVF is around 2-5%. Fallopian tubules, cervix, ovaries or abdominal cavities are common places where the non-viable ectopic pregnancy can take place. Ectopic pregnancies are very rare and can cause serious complications.

Medications and laparoscopic surgical procedures like salpingography (surgery done to retain the tube and only remove the ectopic pregnancy) and salpingectomy (surgery performed to remove the ectopic pregnancy and the tube affected) can be opted to treat this concern.

7. Conceiving Multiples:

There are possibilities of conceiving multiples in IVF if more than one embryo has been transferred. Multiple pregnancies always have their set of associated risks that have to be taken care of. However, choosing a single viable embryo for transfer can avoid multiple pregnancy situations.

8. Premature Births:

Giving birth to a baby before the term is very rarely associated with IVF pregnancy. However, there are IVF side effects of having a ivf baby with low birth weight. This risk can be decreased when frozen embryos are chosen for transfer than fresh or unfrozen embryos.

9. Emotional and Physical Stress:

Couples who are trying for a baby through IVF, do undergo a lot of physical and emotional strain. The multiple tests, injections, surgeries, anticipation, anxiety, stress and much more are all associated with the hope of enjoying parenthood through IVF.

In such conditions, take ample rest, avoid strenuous activities, de-stress through various activities, connect with our yoga experts, counsellors, IVF experts, who will guide you through a stress free pregnancy.

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