IVF: causes, complications and risks

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the methods of assisted reproductive technologies that are used in cases of infertility by combining a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg in a laboratory test tube. The term “in vitro” itself means outside the body, and the fertilization process means that the sperm has successfully entered the egg. Most often, the IVF method is used when other, less expensive methods of childbirth have failed, since IVF is a rather expensive procedure.

The reasons for IVF fertility treatment can be as follows:

  • endometriosis;
  • obstruction or damage to the fallopian tubes (can be triggered by pelvic inflammation or preliminary reproductive intervention);
  • unexplained infertility;
  • male infertility, including a decrease in sperm count;
  • inability of a woman to produce eggs, early extinction of ovarian function;
  • woman’s age.

IVF risks and complications

Like many other medical procedures, there are certain complications and potential risks associated with IVF treatment. Each specific stage of the procedure has its own risks of fertilization.

Lack of response to hormonal treatment. One problem is that the ovaries may not respond to the gonadotropins, hence the follicles will still not develop. This is usually seen in older women.

Depression. The IVF procedure requires a lot of emotional and physical energy, as well as time and money. Many couples who pursue fertility treatments suffer from depression and stress, especially if IVF is not successful.

Internal bleeding. There is a very small risk of bleeding after the egg collection.

Ectopic pregnancy. Despite the fact that embryos are transferred directly into the uterine cavity, in rare cases, they can move into the fallopian tubes and begin to develop there, which causes an ectopic pregnancy.

Side effects provoked by taking medications. Women who are taking fertility drugs may have bloating and abdominal pain, headaches, mood swings, and others. This condition can lead to fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen. Symptoms include pain and bloating, rapid weight gain (4-5 kg ​​in 3 to 5 days), dark urine, poor urination, despite taking the required amount of fluid, vomiting, nausea and shortness of breath. Some cases are treatable with bed rest. For more serious cases, pumping out the fluid with a special needle is required.

Tissue damage. Most IVF drugs are given by injection, often several times a day. Repeated injections can cause bruising. Medical research has shown that fertility drugs have nothing to do with ovarian cancer. The risks of egg retrieval are associated with a reaction to bleeding, anesthesia, infection, and damage to the organs that surround the ovaries, including the bladder and intestines. About one in 1,000 patients will need surgery to repair the damage done while searching for an egg. 

The syndrome of hyperstimulation of the ovaries. Sometimes, when ovulation is stimulated, many follicles are formed. After the embryo is transferred, the ovaries continue to grow and can grow to a large size, which can lead to fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen. This condition is the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Patients may show the same symptoms as when taking medications. This happens 5% of the time. Some cases are treated with bed rest. Occasionally, patients may be hospitalized to recover intravenous fluids.

If the following symptoms are observed after IVF:

  • temperature rise of 38 C and above,
  • severe pelvic pain
  • blood in the urine
  • profuse bleeding from the vagina,

then be sure to call your doctor.


If the pregnancy test is still negative within 12 to 14 days after IVF, the doctor will recommend that you stop taking progesterone and wait for the next appropriate period to start a new stage of treatment. Having failed, you should not give up, you must definitely try again, perhaps the next cycle will be successful!

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