If you are at all familiar with fertility treatments, whether from personal experience, knowing someone who used one, or just hearing about them in the media, you have probably heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In vitro fertilization is one of the most commonly used assisted reproductive treatments.
Despite its prevalence, there are many misconceptions about IVF. This could be because of the media coverage mentioned above, misrepresentation in fictional TV shows and movies, or receiving false information from someone who is not knowledgeable about the subject.
At Laurel Fertility Care, we are committed to providing the highest level of fertility care possible, and this includes education about infertility and available treatments. To do so, we want to address some of the common misconceptions about IVF.
1. The Chance of Multiples Increases with IVF
People often conflate or confuse different types of fertility treatments, leading to misinformation and misconceptions. Not only is it incorrect your chance of multiple gestations increases with IVF, but IVF is the only fertility treatment in which you can control how many embryos are implanted.
While more than one embryo is often implanted during IVF to increase chances of pregnancy, some patients opt for elective single embryo transfer (eSet). In this transfer, one of the healthiest embryos is carefully selected and transferred to the uterus. This reduces the risk of multiples significantly.
With other fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), all of the eggs that have matured during the ovarian stimulation have a chance of being fertilized and making it to pregnancy. Depending on the fertility medication you use, the chance of multiples in an IUI cycle can be up to 25%.
The reason the chances of multiple gestations are referred to as risks is not that people do not want to have twins or triplets as part of their family. Rather, the risk is in the pregnancy itself, which is more likely to have complications than a singleton (only one embryo) pregnancy.
2. IVF Depletes Your Ovarian Reserve
One of the most common misconceptions about IVF is that the procedure wastes valuable eggs your body would otherwise hold onto for the future. Therefore, some people think IVF treatment will jeopardize their chances of getting pregnant in the future due to what’s called low ovarian reserve. Low ovarian reserve means that your ovaries do not have many eggs left in them for ovulation.
This is a misconception that occurs because most people lack the proper knowledge about how ovulation works to understand that the eggs retrieved in an IVF cycle would otherwise be lost, and not even through ovulation.
Each month, your body naturally selects a group of eggs for possible stimulation and ovulation. Normally, outside of an IVF cycle, only one of those eggs will be stimulated, mature, and be ovulated. In an IVF cycle, all of the eggs are stimulated and therefore there is a greater chance that multiple eggs will mature and be retrieved. None of the other eggs your body has designated for future menstrual cycles are affected by the IVF cycle.
3. Ovarian Stimulation Causes Cancer
When it comes to fertility treatment, hormones are often used. When hormones are involved, there are often worries about potentially harmful side effects. There is a misconception that the gonadotropins used to stimulate the ovaries in IVF will cause cancer.
Substantial research indicates that ovarian stimulation using gonadotropins causes cancer. There have been instances of ovarian tumors, but there is no definite causal link between these tumors and ovarian stimulation.
The governing body over reproductive medicine, American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has said that it is safe to go through up to six egg retrieval cycles. Which means it is considered safe for ovarian stimulation to happen six times.
4. There is No Way to Manage Ovarian Hyperstimulation in IVF
Another misconception about ovarian stimulation and IVF is that there is no way to control ovarian hyperstimulation during an IVF cycle. However, patients are monitored during the cycle and medication dosages can be adjusted if overstimulation is detected.
A qualified fertility doctor will take the prevention of any harmful side effects seriously. If necessary, other medications can be given to promote egg release while decreasing the increase in estrogen after the eggs are retrieved. Ovarian hyperstimulation is easily and effectively managed by dosage and medication adjustment.
Now that you know more about the truth of IVF, you might be ready to start discussing this as a possible fertility treatment. Laurel Fertility Care’s expert staff can help you make the most educated decision on which type of fertility treatment is right for you. Call (415) 673-9199 to schedule an appointment or request a free, no-obligation telephone conversation with one of our leading fertility specialists.