Over 60,000 couples every year have used in vitro fertilization to successfully become parents. That means somewhere around 1-2% of all births in the U.S. owe thanks to this particular fertility treatment. For those couples, IVF options are an invaluable help, making it possible to experience the joy and happiness that comes with becoming a parent.
As the most popular fertility treatment in the world, IVF has a well established reputation for success. That?s why knowing your IVF options can help you experience a happy, healthy, and successful pregnancy.
Are There Different Types of IVF?
IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. It?s a process by which genetic material is collected from both parents and fertilization is achieved in a lab. A small collection of eggs are gathered from the mother-to-be, as are sperm from the potential father. Fertilization occurs under controlled conditions in a lab, removing a significant number of biological variables from the pregnancy process.
Once fertilization has been successfully achieved, the egg is implanted back into the uterus of the mother. If the egg then attaches to the uterine wall, a viable pregnancy usually results. Often, this means a healthy and normal pregnancy from start to finish.
?Types? of IVF tend not to be defined by medical criteria–which are fairly uniform–but rather by common patient and familiar configurations:
- Within a partnership: Often, IVF is used to help couples already within a partnership conceive a child. This can be done to overcome infertility issues or for other reasons. The parties in this type of arrangement tend to be known to each other.
- Donor material: For other patients, IVF is used as a means of conceiving with genetic material from a known or unknown donor outside of the partnership or relationship. In these cases, the parents may or may not know the identity of the donor. The level of anonymity is usually handled on an individual level.
It should be noted that IVF is sometimes used quite inaccurately as a catch-all term for fertility treatments of any kind. If you want to know more about the different types of fertility treatments available, you can find more information on our blog or schedule a visit.
For most parents, IVF treatments will take at least three weeks to complete (some couples and candidates stretch out that time, depending on their needs and schedules). But the end result is often a successful, happy pregnancy–the end of one journey and the beginning of another!
Are There Risks Associated With IVF?
While it is a wildly successful procedure, parents who are thinking over their IVF options should be aware of the risks that can be associated with this procedure. In general, these risks are minimal and uncommon. As with any medical procedure, understanding your risks on an individual level can help you make a more informed decision about how to proceed.
Some of the most common risks associated with IVF include:
- Development of ectopic pregnancy: In roughly 2-5% of IVF pregnancies, the fertilized egg will attach not to the uterus but the fallopian tubes. These pregnancies are not viable and can cause health complications if not treated. Ectopic pregnancies are usually treated with medication, although less commonly they do require surgery.
- Complications associated with egg retrieval: Most eggs for IVF are retrieved via an aspirating needle. In some cases, this procedure can cause its own complications. Usually, this translates to bruising or irritation; less commonly, those complications could include infections or damage to the bowel or bladder.
- Development of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: For some women, the introduction of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or other fertility drugs (designed to induce ovulation) can cause the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The condition is usually temporary, but can cause pain or discomfort.
- Multiple births: Because of the way that embryos are implanted into the uterus, IVF fertilization carries a higher risk of a multiple child birth: twins, triplets, or more. Multiple births tend to produce increased stress on the mother?s body and must be carefully monitored. That said, many parents see multiple births as a wondrous and joyful experience.
This list is not exhaustive, of course. There are other risks associated with IVF, but most of them are minor and can be screened and tested for by your OBGYN. It should also be noted that, as with natural pregnancy, miscarriage and preterm birth are both possible risks. There is, notably, no research that conclusively points to IVF as increasing the risk for either of those outcomes.
If you?re thinking about undergoing an IVF procedure, you?ll want to talk to your OBGYN about your possible risk factors.
Is IVF Usually Successful?
IVF is well known for its high success rate. In part, that?s because couples often attempt IVF in multiple instances. If the first attempt does not succeed, you can continue trying until you become pregnant. The best studies and research have found that, generally:
- About one-third of women using IVF successfully become pregnant during their first cycle.
- Between 54%-77% of women will successfully become pregnant by the end of their eighth cycle.
Even after the end of the eight cycle, some women will continue to attempt IVF, eventually finding success.
The vast majority of these pregnancies are successfully completed, leading to a happy baby and a healthy family.
While there is no guaranteed recipe for success with any fertility treatment, several factors can influence how successful or effective your IVF treatment might be. Some of the known such factors can include:
- Lifestyle factors: Some everyday lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your chances for IVF success. Smoking and tobacco use, for example, is a big factor. Women who don?t smoke have a significantly higher number of healthy eggs available for IVF, and therefore typically tend to find greater success.
- Maternal age: In general, women who are under the age of 41 have the best chances of success with IVF. But, happy and healthy pregnancies are common in women older than 41 as well–it might just take a few more attempts.
- The cause of your infertility: Some cases of infertility respond better to in vitro fertilization than others. You should talk to your OBGYN about which of the many fertility options, IVF included, might work best for you.
- Previous pregnancies: According to most research, women who have been pregnant in the past have a higher success rate in quickly becoming pregnant via IVF.
There are other, less common factors that may influence your success with IVF. Most women, however, can and do successfully become pregnant via this method, especially over time.
Know Your IVF Options
The best way to become familiar with your IVF options is to talk to an OBGYN who is familiar with your medical history. For women and couples who have been trying to start a family but run into fertility troubles, IVF can provide a welcome way forward. For many, IVF is a proven way to make their dreams of having children become reality.
There are costs involved, of course. IVF can sometimes represent a significant financial and emotional investment. But for those who have successfully welcomed a baby into their families, there?s no doubt that this investment is worth it.
If you want to know more about your IVF options and whether or not a referral to see a fertility specialist is needed, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices.