Advanced reproductive technology has come a long way in the more-than-40 years since the very first IVF baby was born. IVF is now one of the most successful ways for those who struggle with fertility to realize their dream of conceiving a child. Due to the success of IVF, it has become extremely popular with more and more couples and individuals seeking out all the information they can find about the process.
Unfortunately, the quest to learn more about IVF can lead to misinformation, and myths. Some of the myths surrounding IVF are startlingly untrue, while others may have a kernel of factual information somewhere in them. We want to help put these myths and misinformation to rest once and for all. Here, we separate fact from fiction as we bust the 5 most popular myths about IVF.
5 Common Myths About IVF
Below are the 5 most common myths surrounding IVF. If you have any questions regarding any fertility treatment seek out the advice of a fertility specialist and forego the urge to rely on the internet. Choosing the right fertility treatment is a highly personal decision. Get the facts from the best source-your physician.
Myth 1: “You can expect multiple babies”
While there are cases of multiples with IVF, the procedure itself only increases your chances of becoming pregnant with a viable embryo; that which has been successfully fertilized. At LA IVF we strongly support single embryo transfer, as it boosts your odds for a successful outcome.
When multiple embryos are transferred there are increased risks for miscarriage, labor complications, and premature birth. Many prospective parents falsely assume their odds for a successful outcome are increased with the transfer of multiple embryos. Actually, the opposite is true. For the health of the mother and baby, a single embryo transfer is preferable.
Myth 2: “Your baby will have an increased risk of birth defects, developmental delay, and low birth weight when you use IVF to become pregnant”
While studies have shown a very low number of babies born via IVF are smaller, there is no real evidence to support this myth. IVF babies aren’t at an increased risk for developmental delays, nor are they at a higher risk of major birth defects. The risk of birth defects may be higher in those couples who need ICSI for the fertilization of the eggs due to severe male factor. If ICSI is necessary for certain specific conditions, the risk may be higher, but this is probably due to sperm quality rather than IVF itself.
Genetic counseling can help alleviate your fears and help you achieve a successful outcome. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is one of the surest ways to lower your risk of having a child with genetic defects, even though it does not eliminate it. It’s a safe way to determine the genetic health of your embryos and is recommended along with initial genetic screening.
Myth 3: “IVF raises your risk for developing cancer”
There is no scientific evidence that IVF, or any other treatment for infertility, increases your risk for developing breast, or ovarian, cancer. This IVF myth perpetuated because the medications commonly used to develop multiple mature eggs causes fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen levels. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found the risk of breast cancer among IVF patients was the same as that of the general population. The same is true for ovarian cancer.
It is true though that if you have female factor infertility, the risk of ovarian cancer may be increased, but this is regardless of undergoing any infertility treatment. This means that the underlying infertility diagnosis increases the risk, rather than the treatment itself. It is thought that genetic factors that result in infertility also increase the risk of ovarian cancer in this population.
Myth 4: “Your weight will prevent you from having IVF success”
While it is much more preferable-for your own health, as well as that of your baby-that you begin your IVF journey at a healthy BMI, there’s really no conclusive evidence suggestion overweight women are unable to experience IVF success. It is true though that women who have obesity have lower implantation and success rates with IVF.
Women who are significantly underweight may have reproductive issues because of it. It is much easier for both mother and baby to experience a successful outcome if you go into pregnancy in your very best health. Take a look at your lifestyle and make changes before you begin your treatment. You want to be healthy for your baby before, during, and for all the years after IVF.
Myth 5: “IVF is your best/only option”
Your infertility experience is unique and should be treated as such. Approximately 1 in 6 couples will have difficulty conceiving a child in their 30s and 1 in 3 couples in their early 40s. Obviously, your age has a lot to do with your success, but there are other factors that may enter into it.
For example, many women with low-functioning thyroids, or autoimmune conditions, cease to ovulate. Ovulation can often be restored by certain medications that would accomplish the goal. Male factor infertility accounts for 20%-40% of cases and can often be treated with IUIs. Some women with partial fallopian tube blockages may opt for surgery to open them.
Whereas there are other treatment options available other than IVF, for some it becomes the only option in reality. These include moderate to severe male factor, low egg reserve, complete blockage or damaged fallopian tubes.
Treatment is highly individual as many couples have a few different factors which compromise their fertility. You, your partner, and your doctor will determine the best course of treatment for you.
Always Consult Your Physician
We hope our myth-busting has cleared up your concerns. Don’t let myths about IVF confuse you. Always consult your fertility specialist, or team member, should you have questions.