IVF pregnancies carry the same risk of miscarriage and preterm labour as a naturally conceived pregnancy. The risks increase of miscarriage and preterm labour if there are twin or multiple pregnancies. There is some evidence that in IVF pregnancies, babies may be slightly smaller and fresh embryo transfer and may need ultrasound scans at a later time of pregnancy
The risks associated with IVF treatment can be divided into immediate, short term or long term.
The hormones often cause mood swings, bloating, distension of the abdomen and discomfort. Daily injections also cause local pain as well as swelling. Some women have more exaggerated feelings of feeling low and symptoms from the injections.
As the stimulation progresses there is more distension and discomfort preceding egg collection. The risk of having a premature release of eggs is less than 1%.
At egg collection, the risks are of injury to the bowel, bladder or blood vessel or formation of a small hematoma in the pelvis, these are fortunately very rare occurrences in the range of between five to six in 1000.
The risks at egg collection are that some of the follicles or many of the follicles may be empty and a smaller proportion of eggs can be obtained. In around 1 to 2% of cases, eggs may not be found at all. The risks are the number of eggs that can be obtained, the number of eggs fertilised and the number of embryos formed where an attrition rate commences.
Around 40 to 60% of eggs will be fertilised either by IVF or ICSI and the progression to blastocyst stage with IVF or ICSI. At the blastocyst stage embryos can either be transferred or frozen. The risk of not reaching a blastocyst is between 5 and 7% depending on the age of the patient.
The most significant risk is a failure which carries along with it a significant psychological impact as well as a financial impact.
IVF is usually safe for women. It does involve short and long-term side effects which are easily controlled and cured.
In a small percentage of cases, there is a reaction to stimulation as well as maybe complications of surgery. These are fortunately very very rare. The biggest complication a mother can face is psychological challenges that come after a failure of the IVF cycle
IVF generally does not cause any major side effects on babies. There may be some evidence that babies may be smaller in size or may have higher abnormalities, but this has not been proven
ICSI was introduced in 1992 thousands of healthy children have been born however it is not known if there are any long-term consequences for children conceived by ICSI.
ICSI is known to be a safe treatment. In the past concerns that it would cause more autism or abnormalities, but these have been proven to be wrong. ICSI can only be performed on mature eggs, thus if eggs are found to be immature ICSI cannot be performed.
ICSI does not increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth
ICSI does not also damage the eggs and the risk of damage to eggs is very low
Though in the past ICSI was supposed to cause abnormalities such as autism and miscarriage, this has now been proven to be wrong