1. You’ll only need one cycle
IVF is a complex process that occurs in cycles. Sperm and egg samples are used to create embryos in a fertility laboratory. During this process, the woman takes specific hormone medication to develop eggs and prepare for implantation. Once the embryos are mature, the surgeon will transplant one or more into the uterus. After 14 days, the doctor will test for pregnancy. This entire process makes up a singular cycle. The average pregnancy success rate in the 1st cycle of IVF is between 25-30%. This success rate can go as high as 68% by the 4th cycle. Factors like age, health, use of donor eggs, donor sperm, and IVF method can all affect outcomes. Multiple cycles can make IVF a time-consuming and financially difficult challenge. Couples must be prepared for this process.
2. IVF is not for couples with kids
Some couples already have 1 or more children, so having another should be a piece of cake, right? Not necessarily. Infertility can occur at any point in a couple’s life. For couples with infertility and at least 1 child, the condition is called secondary infertility. This diagnosis can be confusing for friends and family of the couple. The fertility team can provide counseling for the couple to face the challenges of this diagnosis. A person’s health, age, and lifestyle can also change over time, causing infertility. At any point when a couple is struggling with getting pregnant, IVF is a viable option.
3. IVF equals multiples
IVF has been renowned for producing multiple births. Most images of IVF show couples with twins, triplets, or more. Multiple births are not the goal of most hopeful parents, so many avoid IVF to reduce that risk. When IVF was first started, fertility clinics transferred multiple embryos into the uterus to increase the chances of pregnancy. Now, science and medicine have improved the process to the point where elective single embryo transfer (eSET) is an option. Many women can benefit from multiple cycles of eSET versus implanting numerous embryos during a single cycle. Although IVF couples are statistically more likely to conceive twins than natural pregnancies, the risk of multiples can be managed.
4. IVF can cause cancer or early menopause
Concerns have been raised about IVF causing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or cervical cancer. Reassuringly, there has been no real link found between IVF and cancer. One of the biggest concerns is the overstimulation of the ovaries using hormone medication. However, no concrete evidence links fertility drugs to ovarian cancer. Some studies even show that IVF can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
The more you know
So, what’s next for couples interested in IVF? The first step is to do as much research as possible. Get informed and challenge any misconceptions. Then, a consultation with a fertility team can clear up any lingering questions and help couples feel more comfortable with the decision. IVF continues to set the bar as an effective treatment option for infertility. While the perception of the procedure continues to change, couples who move ahead are the ones that benefit.