IVF - the risks

Your clinic will discuss the risks of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with you before you begin treatment. It is very important that you are fully aware of all the potential problems involved.


Drug reaction

A mild reaction to fertility drugs may involve hot flushes, feeling down or irritable, headaches and restlessness. Symptoms usually disappear after a short time but if they do not, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)

OHSS can be a dangerous over-reaction to fertility drugs used to stimulate egg production. It can cause symptoms such as a swollen stomach, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting.

If you start to experience any of these symptoms you must contact your doctor immediately.

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Miscarriage

Although the risk of a miscarriage after IVF is no higher than after a natural conception, nor is the risk lower.

Your clinic will arrange an early pregnancy ultrasound scan if you conceive after IVF. This is to check that the pregnancy is not likely to miscarry. The scan is usually done about two weeks after the positive pregnancy test.

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Ectopic pregnancy

When an embryo develops in your fallopian tube rather than your womb, the pregnancy is said to be ectopic.

An ectopic pregnancy can still occur after IVF. Ectopic pregnancy can cause vaginal bleeding, low pregnancy hormone levels and miscarriage.

Hormone tests and scans are used to detect ectopic pregnancies and you should tell your doctor about any vaginal bleeding or stomach pain.

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Multiple births

Having a multiple birth (twins, triplets or more) is the single greatest health risk associated with fertility treatment.

Your clinic should discuss this risk with you when deciding how many embryos to transfer in your treatment.

 

Further information

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Page last updated: 28 August 2009

 

What are the risks of multiple pregnancy from fertility treatment?

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