The Advantages and Disadvantages of IVF
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, was first successful in the late 1970s. Since the first successful IVF cycle, over eight million babies have been born using this technique. However, as with all medical procedures, IVF has advantages and disadvantages. If you are wondering whether IVF could be the right path for you, we will look at some of the pros and cons you may need to weigh up.
Advantages of IVF
The key advantage of IVF is that this form of reproductive assistance can help a couple who might otherwise be unable to conceive a child. It helps those whose fertility has a medical cause, such as fallopian tube issues, a low reserve of eggs in the ovaries, testicular disease, or for those whose fertility has been affected by previous medical treatment, such as chemotherapy.
IVF is also available to couples with unexplained infertility, whereby conception has not occurred naturally, but no cause has been identified.
Single women, lesbian couples, and those hoping to conceive using a surrogate, may also wish to take advantage of IVF to start their family.
Compared to other forms of fertility treatment, including drugs to induce ovulation or intra-uterine insemination (IUI), IVF may have a higher success rate. Starting IVF also allows for more complex procedures to be recommended if required. This might include intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), to boost the chances of fertilization.
For some couples, embarking on IVF can reveal factors that have previously not been diagnosed. Fertility treatment can lead to the diagnosis of conditions affecting the uterus or ovaries, abnormalities within the sperm, or the realization that one or both partners carry a genetic disorder. While such diagnoses may be upsetting, having all the relevant information can help to make decisions about how best to start a family.
A further advantage is that if you and your partner have a successful round of IVF, you may end up with extra embryos that can be frozen. These can either be stored for subsequent cycles, for example if you wish to have another child in future, or donated to a couple who are unable to create or use their own embryos.
Disadvantages of IVF
The IVF journey will not be right for everyone. The process can be emotionally and physically demanding, and there is sadly no guarantee that a cycle will be successful. Your clinic should be able to advise you on your likely success rate, but every cycle is unique and it is impossible to accurately predict your chances of conceiving.
IVF can put a strain on your physical health, too. Although your clinic will carefully monitor you, there are risks associated with undergoing treatment. A serious complication of IVF is ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), which may require medical treatment. Your clinic should talk to you about the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you are concerned.
If more than one embryo is transferred to the uterus, your chance of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, or more) is increased. Although you may not mind the idea of multiples, the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth and associated health problems for the babies is higher.
Ethical issues can arise during fertility treatment. If genetic screening of the embryos is required, it can be difficult to imagine discarding embryos that have a genetic abnormality. If you have a successful round of IVF, you will need to consider what you want to do with any remaining embryos. Your clinic will talk to you about paying for the embryos to be kept in storage, donating them to another couple, donating them for research, or discarding them.
Of course, one big disadvantage of IVF is the related cost. Each cycle can run into thousands of dollars and, in many cases, this will not be covered by health insurance. It is important to get a full list of fees from your clinic, with advice on which procedures or treatments you may require, so that you can be sure you can afford a full cycle.
IVF and fertility treatment offer hope and a greater chance of conception for many couples. For some, it may also help to ensure that any children born do not have an inherited condition that would greatly affect their health or quality of life. However, IVF is an invasive and expensive process, with no guarantee of success. If you are considering IVF, speak to a fertility specialist to understand more about what a treatment cycle might involve for you.
To learn about your motile sperm concentration before you see a specialist, you can order a YO Home Sperm Test today.