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In Vitro Fertilization: Hazards & Challenges

In Vitro Fertilization: Hazards & Challenges

myfuture / Flickr / CC BY-SA

Did you know that there are 6.7 million women suffering from infertility today in the US alone? Yet, despite the increasing infertility rates, modern medicine has been quick to come up with solutions.

Even though studies of human embryology and developmental biology began in the 18th century, the most notable progress has occurred in just the last two to three decades.

Women having trouble conceiving can choose from a number of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) such as: artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and others. The IVF process is by far the most common.

There are a number of factors that can determine the outcome of the procedure. Age and fitness of the would-be mother can severely influence the IVF cycle. Though, despite being a fairly complicated process it remains relatively safe and it has lead to more than 5 million births worldwide.

If you’re considering using IVF or you want to work as an IVF technologist, learn more about this innovative technology below.

In Vitro Fertilization and Infertility Treatments: Why Do We Need Them?

In Vitro Fertilization and Infertility Treatments: Why Do We Need Them

thtstudios / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

According to a CDC report, fertility in women starts to decrease in their early thirties. At age 35, there’s a 50% chance of unassisted pregnancy.

Women at the age of 40 stand a 36% chance of conceiving naturally and women at 45 — just 5%.

Additional causes of Infertility:

  • Genetic disorders (in both men and women)
  • Damaged, blocked or removed fallopian tubes (women)
  • Ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure (women)
  • Decreased sperm count and/or motility (men)

IVF laboratories provide a full array of fertility services including andrology testing and endocrinology testing. Despite that, only 5% of infertile couples use IVF or other type of infertility treatments. Some are not even aware that they suffer from a disorder which prevents them getting pregnant.

It is important to note that the number of people interested in the in vitro procedure (both patients and healthcare specialists) is steadily increasing. This is largely due to spreading awareness on the subject of assisted pregnancy.

IVF success rate:

According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies, here are the average success rates for IVF by age group:

  • under 35 (early thirties and twenties): 41–43%
  • 35–37 (mid thirties): 33–36%
  • 38–40 (late thirties): 23–27%
  • 41 and over (early forties): 13–18%

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

IVF is the process of assisted fertilization. An egg and sperm are manually combined in a laboratory dish, and then the embryo is transferred to the uterus.

IVF Process Steps:

  • Step one — Special drugs suppress the natural menstrual cycle.
  • Step two — Super-ovulation. Fertility drugs are taken to make the ovaries produce more eggs than normal.
  • Step three — Eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure with light sedation.
  • Step four — Insemination. Eggs and sperm are mixed together in a laboratory environment. Once cell division starts, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.
  • Step five — The embryos are transferred back into the woman’s uterus.

Risks & Hazards Related to The Procedure

Research on the topic suggest that IVF poses no great hazards for the patient. However, there is no universally accepted opinion on exactly how safe the procedure is.

Doctors, embryology (IVF) technologists and researchers work together to ensure the well-being of both mother and embryo.

There is a 1–2% chance of increased risk of genetic disorders in children conceived through ART. Yet it is unclear if this is due to the complications that had lead to infertility in the first place, or to the procedure, itself.

Common Side effects of IVF:

  • Passing a small amount of clear or bloody fluid right after the procedure
  • Mild cramping
  • Breast tenderness
  • Constipation
  • Bloating

Rare side effects:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever

Fertility Medications and IVF Risks:

Some medications and the procedure itself may cause these side effects or negative reactions:

  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain
  • Faintness

In Vitro Fertilization Risks

danepstein / Flickr / CC BY-NC

Related, but extremely rare complications: infections, damage to the bladder or bowel (during egg retrieval), premature delivery or low-weight birth.

Unlike a lot of medical procedures, IVF poses almost no risk of any major or lasting health problems for the patient. Children born as a result of assisted pregnancy are as healthy as naturally conceived babies.

The risks only go up in the case of twins and triplets. Singleton births don’t lead to a higher chance of disabilities.

In Vitro Fertilization Cost

The price typically ranges between $12,000–$17,000 depending on the state and the healthcare institution or clinic. The good news is that some insurance plans provide coverage for fertility treatment.

There’s been an increased demand for embryology technologists and other specialists in the field of human developmental biology. Therefore, if this is a field you’re interested in pursuing, now is a great time to get started.

4 thoughts on “In Vitro Fertilization: Hazards & Challenges

  • Evie says:

    Starting the IVF treatment process was the most exciting and nerve-wracking experience in my life. I have been trying to conceive for months. The good news for me was that IVF is pretty successful. Especially in a good clinic with experienced doctors. I consider myself lucky not to suffer from useless rounds as I had found great clinic faster comparing to others. My closest friends from Ukraine advised visiting one of Kiev clinic. At first I wasn’t sure about that idea coz I thought it third world country where poverty is beyond the bounds. But despite political situation I was encouraged by the acceptance and practice of IVF. Plus that fertility clinic has been specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility for over 14 years. So with help of doctors from Kiev reproductive center I had positive result!! For now, I’m just going to live it up, let myself get excited, and trust that we finally pulled it off! And enjoy motherhood

  • Alexis says:

    Well, Evie you are very risky person. I would never go for IVF in Ukraine. I don’t understand how to trust my health to the country with low development. According to news, each branch of the Ukraine is neglected. And I suppose, that medicine is also in horrible condition. I think, that Europe is more experienced in question of IVF. And if I have to do this I would better to find clinic somewhere else. Nevertheless, that good, that everything went smooth for you)

    • Patricia says:

      Alexis, I respect your opinion but must disagree with u on some point. Surely, Ukraine impossibly named developed country. Not to mention endless politician issues and war. But! If we are speaking about reproductive medicine Ukraine doesn’t take the last place. For example many European countries buy donor cells in Ukraine and conduct IVF programs at home. I read that in Ukraine, market of assisted reproductive technologies was monopolized by some big medical center in Kiev city. This clinic uses fresh biological material conducting IVF procedures in Ukraine. But to me no one can say for sure that somewhere the medicine is good, somewhere is bad. I’m just saying that Ukraine isn’t the worst option.

  • Leila says:

    I have to agree with Evie and Patricia from the comments above! Ukraine also surprised us. Together with my partner, we have been trying to get a child naturally for almost 6 years. It seems that you can easily imagine how many times we visited different clinics and professional doctors! You know, till that moment we both had no idea what does the IVF, IUI or the ET mean. One day I understood the fact that there is no possible way to get a child naturally. After some difficult months, we decided that the time for changes has finally come. That we have to move to our desirable parenthood time. So I started to look for some other options. I saw a banner of the Ukrainian Center for Human Reproduction on the Internet. That was a brilliant idea! I asked my beloved man about the surrogate motherhood. He was pretty surprised but agreed that it can be a chance for us. That was a brand-new experience for both of us! We were full of different questions and emotions. And you know the result was worth it. Now we are waiting for baby-girl and I am sure that everything will be perfect.

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