Undergoing IVF treatment is a big decision and couples may often feel conflicting emotions of hopefulness, apprehension and uncertainty. Rumours surrounding IVF have created a delusion because of which many couples facing fertility issues still react towards it with scepticism and fear. But it is truly said that half knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance! IVF is a procedure where fertilization occurs outside the body but further development of the embryo is carried in the body of the mother. Today, advances in medical technology, modern medications and compassionate care have made the procedure very easy and safe.
Under expert supervision, couples have overcome the most common fears associated with undergoing IVF treatment and have had a safe and successful delivery. When it comes to IVF, the risks are not the same for all cases. Some couples are at a very low risk while others may be at a higher risk.
Also women trying to conceive through IVF tend to be older, and thus they are more likely to suffer from diseases such as thyroid, hypertension and diabetes. Such conditions can have a significant risk in ensuing pregnancy. As in the case with all medical procedures, it is critical to provide patients/couples with sufficient information so that they can make an informed decision.
It is a common misbelieve that IVF treatments are considered to be painful, but in reality they are not. IVF treatment consists of approximately 10 days of injections for development of follicles (eggs). There are usually given as(SubCutaneous)pens and pain is very less. Certain patients can take the daily injections on their own with training from a nurse.
These are like the daily insulin injections which a diabetic takes every day at home.Less painful and easy to administer. Most patients come up with concerns such as long hospital stay. This is not the case. The patient is given a daily injection to be taken on time and come to the hospital for scans.
Egg pick up is done under anaesthesia and needs one day admission. No night stay is required. At any point the patient need not get admitted for longer periods. Another common misconception is association of multiple births with IVF. Studies have shown that the chances of multiple pregnancies are 3% in IVF-ET (Embryo Transfer). The risk of carrying more than twins is less than 5% among them.
Moreover some couples fear the chances of abnormality in the offspring. There is no increased risk of birth defects in offspring's (babies) of women who undertake this treatment. Pre-Genetic Screening (PGS) is done to screen whether the embryo is genetically normal or not. It actually helps us to discard genetically abnormal embryos and transfer the normal ones thereby increasing the chances of a normal live birth.
One or few cells of embryo are tested .Published studies have not reported for increased defects for babies born after embryo biopsy compared to IVF babies born without embryo biopsy. The only major risk in this treatment is OHSS (hyper stimulation of ovaries). The patient may experience discomfort and bloating to major problem of collection of fluid in abdomen which may require drainage.
But with proper patient selection, good monitoring all throughout the cycle and drug dosage and protocol selection, severe cases can be avoided. A good embryo freezing protocol can help in the prevention of severe OHSS.
At Nova, we are now on the verge of being OHSS free clinics. A doctor can minimize the risk of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome by closely monitoring the patient’s ovaries and hormone levels during treatment.
IVF is not as emotionally difficult as anticipated. Explaining the success rate and helping patients choose a suitable treatment procedure to achieve pregnancy early supported with psychological counselling will help largely in reducing the concerns associated with IVF technology. (The author is a fertility consultant at Nova IVI Fertility)