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What are the Risks and Side Effects of IVF?

Couple meeting medical specialist at hospital; blog: What are the Risks and Side Effects of IVF?

Fertility treatments are generally very safe, but all medical procedures carry some risk of potential side effects. The side effects of IVF may include reactions to the hormonal fertility medications taken during the preparation for egg retrieval. There is also a small risk of rare complications during egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures. 

Your fertility specialist will work with you to make sure any treatment you undergo is as safe as possible. You should always consult them if you have concerns, especially if you’re experiencing severe side effects of IVF.

Soreness or Bruising from Injections

During the ovulation induction part of the IVF process, injectable fertility medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs. Sometimes women experience pain, bruising, or tenderness at their injection sites. You can reduce this side effect by choosing different sites for injections when possible.

Nausea

Another one of the physical side effects of IVF is nausea. Some women also experience vomiting, but not always.

Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness is often a side effect of fertility drugs. It is similar to the sensitivity some women experience before or during their menstrual cycles.

Bloating

This is another side effect that many women are familiar with during their menstrual cycle. This is because the hormones being used to stimulate egg development are the same ones involved in regular menstruation, they’re just present in larger quantities during fertility treatments.

Hot Flashes

Some women report that taking hormonal fertility medication causes them to have hot flashes.

Mood Swings

Hormonal medication might cause emotional changes like mood swings. Irritability, restlessness, or a general feeling of being down may occur while taking fertility medication.

Fatigue

Fatigue may be a side effect of IVF. This could be due to hormonal shifts caused by fertility drugs. Other physical symptoms like hot flashes may also interfere with sleep, leading to tiredness.

Allergic Reactions

Some women experience allergic reactions to injections. This may include skin itching or redness at the injection sites.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is an excessive response to taking the injectable hormones used in IVF cycles. If a woman has too many growing follicles, fluid may leak into the abdomen. OHSS is usually mild and leads to symptoms like bloating, nausea, and weight gain. Mild to moderate cases can be treated with rest and hydration with electrolyte-rich liquids. In rare cases, OHSS is severe enough to require treatment at the hospital.

Mild Pelvic and Abdominal Pain

During or after the egg retrieval step of IVF, you may experience mild to moderate pelvic and/or abdominal pain. Some women describe the pain as being similar to cramping. Usually, this pain is mild enough to be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and resolves within a day or two of the procedure.

Pelvic Infection

Pelvic infections are also a risk of the egg collection and embryo transfer steps of IVF but are very rare. Some doctors give antibiotics before and after procedures to prevent infection, but not everyone’s the same. 

Multiple Births

Having a pregnancy with more than one baby is more likely with IVF. This risk is increased when more than one embryo is transferred. Being pregnant with multiples increases the risk of preterm labor, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and the need for a C-section.

Emotional Stress

Many people have great success with IVF, but every cycle does not end with a pregnancy. If you do not get pregnant after a cycle, it can be terribly disappointing because you’ve put so much effort into it. And as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ARM) points out, while IVF does not increase the risk of miscarriage, pregnancy loss after going through an intense process might be even more painful. 

Almost anyone will tell you that it is completely worth dealing with the side effects of IVF to build your family. If you have concerns about IVF or other fertility treatments, the team at Carolinas Fertility Institute is here to help. The physicians and staff at our North Carolina fertility clinic have decades of experience in providing personalized and affordable care to patients on fertility journeys. To make an appointment, call our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.

Filed Under: IVF