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Reproductive Technology

The Risks Of Ivf

In some women, the drugs used to promote superovulation may cause side effects, including mood swings. Some investigators have suggested that procedures used in assisted reproductive technology may not be safe because of the potential for increased ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and bone loss from the hormone treatments. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome occurs at mild levels in 23 percent of women undergoing the treatments, at moderate levels in 3 percent, and at severe levels in 0.1 percent. Complications also may arise as a result of the surgical procedures involved in egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Such complications include pelvic and other infections, which occur in 0.15 percent to 1.2 percent of women, complications from anesthesia, which occur in 0.2 percent, and internal injuries, which occur in 0.38 percent. Although the incidence of such complications is low, every chemical or surgical intervention is associated with risks, and potential patients should be aware of this.

Other concerns regarding the long-term effects of assisted reproductive technology include the increased incidence of spontaneous abortions, which occur in 20 percent of women, and ectopic and heterotopic pregnancies, which occur in 5.5 and 1.2 percent of women, respectively. In heterotopic pregnancies, an embryo is implanted outside the uterus.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether there is a link between the use of fertility drugs and ovarian cancer. Overall, results from many studies do not seem to support such a connection. Some researchers have suggested that the use of the drugs may increase the risk of ovarian cancer later in life, but this is difficult to prove or disprove because the techniques have not been around long enough to assess long-term effects. There have been no reports of any increase in abnormalities in children born using micro-assisted fertilization, though critics have questioned whether the techniques might increase the incidence of such abnormalities.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4Reproductive Technology - Pregnancy And Infertility, In Vitro Fertilization, The Risks Of Ivf, Embryo Transfer Techniques, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer