July 6th, 2016
‘In vitro’ is a Latin word which means ‘in glass’. It refers to a procedure occurring outside the human body. Fertilization is defined as the union of a female egg with a male sperm. In vitro fertilization (IVF) therefore refers to a form of assisted reproductive technology in which eggs are removed from the female ovary, and mixed with sperms in a laboratory culture dish. After fertilization, the eggs (now called embryos) are transferred into a woman’s womb, where implantation and further development takes place.
For childless parents, IVF is a sign of hope but in some cases, the procedure may have certain risks and side effects. Most notable ones are discussed below:
1. Injectable IVF Medicines And Associated Risks
Injections of hormone gonadotropins (hCG) are given to the female who is undergoing in vitro fertilization to stimulate the production of eggs in the ovary. Various research and clinical studies indicates that exogenous injections of hormone gonadotropins are associated with several risks including:
2. Egg Retrieval From Ovaries And Associated Risks
Egg retrieval is done with a long needle which is passed through the vagina into the ovarian follicles to remove the egg/s. Although this procedure is ultrasound guided, but in some cases, following complications may occur:
3. Transfer Of Embryo And Associated Risks
A catheter transfers the embryo into the uterus of the female. Following problems can be encountered by the woman during/after this process:
4. Complications During Pregnancy
5. Risk Of Birth Defects In Children Born By IVF
This is a topic under much debate these days. However, experts believe and studies have shown that the risk of birth defects in infertile couples is higher due to late conception or underlying causes of infertility.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm injection (ICSI) is an IVF procedure which is associated with birth defects, sex chromosome abnormalities and some rare genetic imprinting disorders. However it is not fully proven whether these complications are due to IVF procedure or due to defective sperms.
Speak to your fertility specialist to learn more about this procedure and associated risks.
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2. Sandin, S., Nygren, K. G., Iliadou, A., Hultman, C. M., & Reichenberg, A. (2013). Autism and mental retardation among offspring born after in vitro fertilization. JAMA, 310(1), 75-84.
3. Hansen, M., Kurinczuk, J. J., Bower, C., & Webb, S. (2002). The risk of major birth defects after intracytoplasmic sperm injection and in vitro fertilization. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(10), 725-730.
4. Maheshwari, A., Pandey, S., Shetty, A., Hamilton, M., & Bhattacharya, S. (2012). Obstetric and perinatal outcomes in singleton pregnancies resulting from the transfer of frozen thawed versus fresh embryos generated through in vitro fertilization treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fertility and sterility, 98(2), 368-377.