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IVF – The risks and side effects explained

IVF and the risks

The decision to start IVF is huge but have you considered the IVF risks? You have probably taken the time to choose the right clinic, find out what is involved in the process and get yourself some emotional support. Now is the time to fully understand what you are about to do and get informed on the risks and side effects associated with IVF.

1. Drug reaction

A mild reaction to fertility drugs may involve hot flushes, feeling down or irritable, headaches and restlessness. Symptoms usually disappear after a short time but if they do not, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

2. Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)

OHSS can be a dangerous over-reaction to fertility drugs used to stimulate egg production. It can cause symptoms such as a swollen stomach, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting.

If you start to experience any of these symptoms you must contact your doctor immediately. If you are worried and this is outside the clinic opening hours, use the emergency number you have been given. It is always better to call than worry.

3. Miscarriage

Although the risk of a miscarriage after IVF is no higher than after a natural conception, there is still a risk.

Your clinic will arrange an early pregnancy ultrasound scan if you conceive after IVF. This is to check that the pregnancy is progressing well. The scan is usually done about two weeks after the positive pregnancy test.

4. Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops in the fallopian tube or elsewhere in the pelvic region, rather than in the uterus. This type of pregnancy is unable to be sustained.

An ectopic pregnancy can still occur after IVF. Ectopic pregnancy can cause vaginal bleeding, pain and low pregnancy hormone levels .

Hormone tests and scans are used to detect ectopic pregnancies and you should tell your doctor about any vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain.

 5. Multiple births

Having a multiple birth (twins, triplets or more) is the single greatest health risk associated with fertility treatment.

This is carefully regulated by the HFEA and do make sure that your clinic discusses this risk with you when deciding how many embryos to transfer in your treatment.

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