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What are the Complications of In-vitro Fertilization?

There are several complications involved with use of IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Some of the complications are potentially serious and some are not serious. If you are planning to undergo in-vitro fertilization, you should be aware of the potential risks or complications associated with the procedure (i.e. IVF).

Multiple pregnancies:

The most common complication involved in IVF (in-vitro fertilization) is multiple pregnancies. Multiple pregnancies are directly related to the technique of using multiple embryo transfer. In some countries (e.g. UK) there is strict limit of the number of embryos that can be transferred legally, to prevent multiple pregnancies, especially the risk of high-order multiples such as triplets or more. Unfortunately it is doubtful if the limit is followed. Even after limiting the number of embryos that are transferred, there is still chance of spontaneous splitting of embryos in the womb after transfer, which will result in identical twins, but this is very rare. Multiple pregnancies result in low birth weight babies and associated complications.

Birth defects:

This is a controversial topic in IVF. Some studies show there is higher risk of birth defects in in-vitro fertilization (especially with ICSI or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), but some studies do not show this result. In 2008, in the United States analysis of the data of the National Birth Defects Study in the US shows that, the risk of birth defects was higher in compare to general population, especially heart defects, cleft lips/palate etc.

To reduce the incidence of birth defects in IVF, pre-implantation genetic screening and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis can be done.

Other complications with IVF:

If the underlying infertility is due to abnormalities in spermatogenesis, the male offspring may also suffer from the same problem.

There is increased risk of depression (although there is no increased risk of anxiety disorders) in women associated with negative pregnancy test after in-vitro fertilization. But in males no such association is seen.

Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome is also a common complication associated with IVF.

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