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in vitro fertilisation (ivf)

What are the risks associated with IVF?

  • 4.8 (2 Votes)

IVF treatment has helped many couples to conceive successfully. But IVF is also associated with certain risks, which includes ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cancer, miscarriage, ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS), egg retrieval procedure complications, multiple births, stress and birth defects. However these side effects have been observed in very few women.

Nowadays a number of individuals are opting for medical solutions in order to conceive their own baby because of infertility issues. Some of the commonly utilized assisted reproductive technology includes IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination), ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and surrogacy. IVF is one of the most commonly utilized medical treatments in the recent years for successful pregnancies and birth of own babies.  You will be surprised to know but an increasing number of babies are born every year with the help of IVF treatment. But this IVF treatment comes with some risks, which you should know before starting the treatment. One thing is for sure that benefit of having a baby through any fertility treatment outweighs these risks.Read this complete article to know more about IVF and the risks associated with it.

What happens in IVF?  

IVF treatment is an assisted reproductive technology, which involves the process of fertilization of eggs and sperms in a laboratory. Then, the fertilized embryo is transferred into the uterus of woman undergoing IVF. The doctor prioritizes that only the best embryos are taken to improve the chances of successful pregnancy. Do you want to know why couples opt for IVF treatment when they are not able to conceive naturally? If yes, then don’t miss to read our article on Why Couple Go For IVF.

Risks associated with IVF

So, now you have basic idea regarding the procedure of IVF treatment. Like every medical treatment, IVF treatment also has its own risks and complications. If we talk of IVF risks, some of these risks are also seen in normal pregnancy. So, if you have planned to start an IVF treatment, you should not back out. It’s just that you should know all the possible outcomes of an IVF. Let’s discuss each of the IVF risks in detail one by one.

Multiple births

Multiple births are one of the most commonly occurring consequences of IVF treatment. You need to know that when more than one embryo (fertilized combination of egg and sperm) is transferred to the uterus, the chances of multiple pregnancies increase to a greater extent. Most of the IVF births noted according to the latest research are multiples i.e. twins or triplets.

Multiple births 

Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS)

Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs due to an overdose of injectable fertility drugs like LH and FSH injections. These drugs are utilized for egg development inside the ovaries. Ovaries of women are usually super sensitive. So, an increased usage of the fertility drugs can lead to the development of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. The signs and symptoms of OHSS include weight gain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloating which can last for around a week.

OHSS can be mild, moderate and severe depending upon the severity of the condition. Mild type OHSS, usually subsides on its own within a few days. Moderate type involves general pelvic pain and abdominal discomfort. Severe OHS leads to excess discomfort and breathlessness in women.


The percentage of miscarriage in IVF based pregnancies is similar to that of the natural pregnancies. This falls around 15-20%. But, you need to note that with the increase in the age of a mother, the chance of miscarriage also increases. So, you need to make sure that you discuss with your doctor clearly before finalizing the commencement of IVF treatment.

Are you eager to know the best foods you need to eat after IVF treatment? Then you can read about Diet After IVF Treatment.

Premature delivery with low birth weight

As mentioned above IVF treatments lead to multiple births. Most of the times, multiple births are related to premature delivery especially by 7th to 8th month of pregnancy. It is noted that children born with the help of IVF treatment, weigh lesser than the required weight and born earlier too. Such babies have higher chances of attracting high blood pressure, heart disease as well as an increased probability of the occurrence of osteoporosis.

premature delivery

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is one of the most noted risks and complications of IVF treatment. It is not just associated with IVF, but natural pregnancies can also be an ectopic one. It is a type of pregnancy, which occurs outside the uterus. It can occur in the fallopian tubes or nearby organs. The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal and pelvic pain along with the vaginal bleeding. It is important to consider that this type of pregnancy is difficult to survive as the baby develops in a constricted region, which can damage the involved area as well as can affect the functioning of the surrounding organs. Therefore, it is always recommended to get ectopic pregnancy treated without any delay to prevent irreversible damage to the surrounding reproductive organs and also to prevent death.


Ovarian cancer is a common type of cancer occurring in women. It has increased in the recent years due to an increase in the utilization of fertility drugs to combat infertility issues. Ovarian cancer is twice more common in case of women who do not have a baby. Also, women who have early menopause are at lower risk than those who had menopause after 50. Uterus cancer is more common in women who do not have babies yet.

Egg retrieval procedure complications

Egg retrieval procedure is also carried out at the time of IVF treatment. This procedure involves removal of the required number of eggs (oocytes) from the ovaries for the fertilization with sperm. This step is done after 10-14 days of starting the IVF treatment. This is done under conscious sedation. Many female patients face discomfort along with bleeding and injury to the bowel or bladder due to the usage of aspiring needle.

Egg retrieval procedure

If general anesthesia is used for this step of IVF treatment, then it might also involve certain risks for some patients.

Birth defects

According to a recent research, birth defects are more common in the babies who are born with IVF treatments. The percentage of birth defects is around 2.6 – 3.9% in case of IVF born babies and birth defects in naturally born babies are around 2-3%. So, you can see that your baby born with the help of IVF treatment is more prone to birth defects. ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is used along with IVF treatment to reduce the chances of birth defect.


You need to know that stress occurs quite frequently in the couples who are opting for IVF treatment. It is very hard to deal with unsuccessful IVF cycle. But, you should always remember that you are doing your best to conceive a baby. Sometimes, multiple IVF cycles increase your chances of successful pregnancy.

Thus, you can see that there are certain risks associated with IVF treatment. So, it is essential to take the right set of precautions before proceeding with IVF treatment procedures.

Learn the factors on which the success rate of IVF depends. Also, get a complete guide to prevent IVF failures. You can also call at +917899912611 for any fertility concerns.

Dr. Rachna Verma

About The Author

Infertility Specialist, Endocrinologist Dr. Rachna Verma

Dr. Rachna Verma is a gynecologist and obstetrician presently specializing in Infertility management, IUI, IVF, Hormonal Disturbance Management. Dr. Rachna has completed MBBS from SP Medical College, Bikaner in 1992 and DGO from RNT Medical College in 1996. Then, Dr. Rachna pursued DNB in Obstetrics and Gynecology and MNAMS in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Sir Gangaram Hospital in 1999 and 2000 respectively. She is also a member of National Academy of Medical Sciences. Presently, Dr. Rachna is practicing at Gynae and Imaging Point and Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Delhi. For more information, visit


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  5. Diet after ivf treatment Diet After IVF Treatment, Elawoman - 2018
  6. Who is a cardiologist? heart disease, Elawoman - 2018
  7. Blocked fallopian tubes causes and treatment fallopian tubes, Elawoman - 2017
  8. What is icsi (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment? ICSI, Elawoman - 2018
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Palak Chugh

I don't think that IVF has any risks associated with it. I know one of my relatives who conceived through IVF. She and her baby are perfectly normal. So, risks with IVF procedure are optional.

June 2, 2018, 2:34 p.m. 5.0


Raunak Goyal

May 24, 2018, 1:04 a.m. 4.5

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