in vitro fertilisation (ivf)

What are the Top 9 Risks and Side Effects of IVF procedure?

  • 4.7   (5 Votes)
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepika Tiwari - MBBS on 22 Dec 2018 - Written by Dr. Rachna Verma - MBBS - Grammatically Approved by Dr. Kavita Jaggi Agrawal - MBBS

IVF success rates are appreciating ones. But then, the risks associated with IVF procedure include ectopic pregnancy, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, multiple births, and miscarriage. Some of the most commonly occurring side effects of IVF are egg retrieval complications, premature delivery of babies.

Let’s Discuss in More Detail About Risk Associated with IVF:-

Nowadays a number of couples opt for medical procedures for getting pregnant. Some of the commonly utilized assisted reproductive technology includes IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination), ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) as well as surrogacy. IVF is one of the most common medical treatments available for successful pregnancies. It is mainly used for fertilizing eggs outside of fallopian tubes and implanted in uterus during later stages. Find more about the common risk associated with IVF treatment. Every year, the success rate of In vitro Fertilization with mothers under the age group of 35 years is as high as sixty percent or more. According to recent research, it is believed that between 2004 and 2008, more than 5,000 children were born through surrogacy. Around 35,000 children in total were born with a surrogate mother.

What happens in IVF?

IVF treatment is an assisted reproductive technology, which involves fertilization of eggs and sperms in a laboratory under controlled conditions. The fertilized embryo is transferred into the uterus of a woman. The doctor prioritizes that only the best embryos are taken for a successful pregnancy. This increases the chances of conceiving a baby within months of completing the IVF treatment.

Risks associated with IVF

Like every medical treatment, IVF treatment also has its own risks and complications. Both the mother and baby can face serious complications even after delivery for a number of reasons. Some of the common risks associated with IVF treatment are as follows:

1. Multiple Births

Multiple births are one of the most common risks associated with IVF treatment. When one embryo (fertilized combination of egg and sperm) is transferred to the uterus, the chances of multiple pregnancies increase largely. Most of the births noted according to the latest research are in multiples i.e. twins or triplets.

Multiple births

2. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHS)

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHS) occurs due to injectable fertility drugs like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). These drugs are utilized at the time of ovulation (release of eggs from the ovaries). Ovaries of women are usually sensitive, so an increased usage of fertility drugs can lead to the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The signs and symptoms of this risk associated with IVF treatment last for almost a week. Some of these symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, diarrhea and vomiting. This occurs in between the IVF cycles. If a woman is pregnant, then the symptoms can be seen for a few weeks. Symptoms can occur in three different types like mild, moderate and severe types. Mild type subsides on its own within after few days. Moderate type involves general pelvic pain and abdominal discomfort. Severe OHS can lead to excessive discomfort and breathlessness in the pregnant woman.

3. Miscarriage

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

4. 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 are born much earlier than the expected date. Such babies have higher chances of attracting high blood pressure, heart disease as well as increased probability of occurrence of osteoporosis.

premature delivery

5. Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is also among the common risks associated with IVF treatment. It is a type of pregnancy, which occurs outside the uterus. It can occur in the fallopian tube or nearby structures. There is severe abdominal and pelvic pain along with vaginal bleeding associated with ectopic pregnancy. It is important to consider that this type of pregnancy is difficult to survive as if it grows like a normal pregnancy, it can damage the nearby area. It can also affect the normal functioning of other parts of the body. Therefore, it is always recommended to get this type of pregnancy treated without any delay to prevent irreversible damage to the surrounding reproductive organs and prevent death.

6. Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a common type of cancer occurring in women. It has increased in recent years due to the increase in the utilization of fertility drugs from time to time. Ovarian cancer is twice more common in case of women who do not have a baby. Generally, women who have early menopause are at lower risk than those who had menopause after 50 years of age. Uterus cancer is more common among women who never conceived before.

7. Egg retrieval procedure complications

Egg retrieval procedure is carried out at the time of IVF treatment. This procedure involves removing the required amount of eggs (oocytes) taken out from the ovary for fertilization along with sperm. This step is done after 10-14 days of starting with the IVF treatment. This is done under conscious sedation. Many female patients face discomfort along with bleeding and injury due to the usage of an aspiring needle. In general, anesthesia is used for this step of IVF treatment, which might also involve certain risks for some patients.

Egg retrieval procedure

8. 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 can range between 2.6 – 3.9% in case of birth defects in IVF born babies and birth defects in naturally born babies are around 2-3%. Sex chromosomal abnormalities are more common in case of ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) which is used along with IVF treatment. It is important to discuss these probabilities with your doctor before starting with the procedure.

9. Stress

You need to know that stress occurs quite frequently in case of couples who opt for IVF treatment. This is because of the time and money invested as well as the number of risks you need to face at times of unsuccessful cases. This can be commonly seen in the case of couples who cannot afford or find it difficult the costs of the fertility treatments.

Thus, you can see that there are certain risks associated with IVF treatments. Every risk is unique and occurs in certain patients. Therefore, it is essential to take the right set of precautions before proceeding with the IVF treatment procedures.

We hope this article was helpful to you to resolve your queries about the risk associated with IVF Treatments. Follow Elawoman blog for regular updates on fertility health and treatment. If you are looking for the best gynecologist in Delhi, can help you in your search. For complete information on normal delivery cost and other treatments like surrogacy, IUI Treatment, IVF centers, IVF doctors and treatments, you can consult Ela. Feel free to call on the given number for any inquiry or advice: +917899912611.

Dr. Rachna Verma

Written by

Infertility Specialist, Endocrinologist

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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Anika Yadav

My sister is very happy with her IVF treatment. She got pregnant in the first cycle itself.

Oct. 17, 2018, 12:50 p.m. 4.5


Ishita Thakur

We are thinking to take the procedure of IVF. After having a conversation with a fertility specialist about the IVF risks and procedures I am ready to proceed for the treatment.

July 22, 2018, 6:18 p.m. 5.0


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


Raghav Dhawan

Hi Elawoman, the information that you provided on IVF was very helpful. Thank You

June 2, 2018, 8:32 a.m. 4.5


Raunak Goyal

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

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