Risks of IVF
NHS ChoicesMedical Reference
The potential problems associated with IVF are outlined below.
You may experience any of the following symptoms as a reaction to fertility drugs:
- hot flushes
- feeling down or irritable
See your doctor if these symptoms do not get better.
Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome
Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) is an uncommon but known complication of IVF. It occurs in women who are very sensitive to the fertility drugs given to stimulate egg production. Too many eggs develop in the ovaries, which become very large and painful.
It can result in pain and bloating low down in your stomach, nausea or vomiting. Severe cases can be dangerous. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilised egg implants outside the womb ('ectopic' means in the wrong place).
If you have IVF, you have a slightly higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tubes rather than in the womb. This can cause vaginal bleeding or bleeding into your abdomen.
Hormone tests and scans are used to detect ectopic pregnancies. Tell your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding or stomach pain after having IVF and a positive pregnancy test.
There is an increased chance of producing twins or triplets with IVF treatment if more than one embryo is put back into the womb.
Having more than one baby may not seem like a bad thing, but it does significantly increase the risk of developing complications for you and your babies:
- Multiple pregnancy can cause your blood pressure to rise significantly.
- You are two to three times more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy if you are carrying more than one baby.
- Around half of all twins and 90% of triplets are born prematurely or with a low birth weight. The risk of your baby dying in the first week of life is five times higher for twins than for a single baby. For triplets, the risk is nine times higher.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recommends that a maximum of two embryos are put back into the womb during treatment in women under the age of 40.
The HFEA also encourages a single embryo transfer in women who are at most risk of having twins (for example, younger women who have produced a lot of embryos). For more information, go to the One at a time website.
- Ectopic refers to a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb, most commonly in the fallopian tubes.
- An embryo is an unborn baby, from when the female egg is fertilised by the sperm until the eighth week of pregnancy.
- Fallopian tubes
- Fallopian tubes (also called oviducts or uterine tubes) are the two tubes that connect the uterus to the ovaries in the female reproductive system.
- Ovaries are the pair of reproductive organs that produce eggs and sex hormones in females.
- The uterus (also known as the womb) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman where a baby grows during pregnancy.