In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility procedure that’s used to help individuals and couples who are unable to have children on their own. It is very popular among people in their thirties and forties due to its high success rates. However, there are many myths flying around about IVF, discouraging people from pursuing the treatment. While some of these myths are false, others have a tiny bit of fact in them.
In this piece, we will clarify some of these misconceptions and set the record straight once and for all: But before that, let’s look at what the IVF process entails.
How the IVF Process Works
Here are the steps involved in the IVF timeline :
- Testing and Ovarian Stimulation
Before beginning the IVF process, the woman will undergo a blood test and an ultrasound to evaluate her hormone levels and examine her womb. She will then be placed on medications to stimulate her ovaries to develop multiple eggs.
- Egg Retrieval
The woman is given an hCG injection to trigger ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovary). 34 -36 hours after the trigger shot, she will undergo a surgical procedure to collect her eggs. The egg retrieval takes less than 30 minutes.
- Fertilization and ICSI
Sperm and eggs are “mixed” in the lab for fertilization to take place. In some cases, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be required.
- Embryo Transfer
The fertilized eggs (embryos) are transferred into the woman’s womb. Embryo transfer usually occurs after a series of injectable medications to ready the uterine lining. The embryo transfer is a simple procedure that requires no anesthesia.
- Pregnancy test
Approximately 14 days after the transfer, the woman will complete a blood test to confirm pregnancy. The test result usually comes out on the same day
7 Common Myths about IVF
Myth 1#: You will have multiples
The transfer of two or more embryos during IVF can actually result in multiple births. But it is not the IVF treatment that increases the chances of having more than one baby, but the multiple embryos implanted in the womb during the procedure.
Myth 2#: IVF increases your risk of having cancer
There’s no proof that IVF or any other infertility treatment raises a woman’s risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer. This IVF myth is only making rounds because the medications used to induce ovulation cause changes in the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
While it’s true that women with female infertility factors are more likely to develop ovarian cancer, this is regardless of whether they undergo IVF treatment or not.
Myth 3#: Your weight will prevent you from having success with IVF
It’s important to have a healthy BMI before beginning the IVF process to ensure your health and that of your baby. However, there’s no scientific evidence indicating that overweight or obese women cannot achieve success with IVF. Obese women have lower IVF success rates and increased levels of complications, though.
Also, underweight women tend to have fertility issues due to their body weight. So, you are more likely to have a favorable IVF outcome if you begin the process in your best health condition.
Myth 4#: IVF is only for infertile couples
While IVF is often performed on women who cannot get pregnant otherwise, women who are not infertile can also benefit from the procedure. You can decide to pursue IVF if you or your spouse suffers from a heritable condition that could impact the baby’s health in the long term. IVF is also for patients that are interested in family balancing (gender selection) and those who would like the opportunity to do genetic testing prior to birth. IVF is also an attractive option for individuals and same-sex couples who want to have genetic children.
Myth 5#: IVF can be done at any age
It’s true that you can do IVF at any age, but the sooner, the better. As a woman gets older, so does her reproductive system. An older woman may not develop enough mature eggs even with IVF. Or her womb may not be able to carry a pregnancy. Besides, there is no 100% guarantee that your IVF treatment will be a success.
Myth 6#: IVF is painful
IVF is not a painful medical procedure. The medication used in IVF is given using a technologically advanced injection pen, so you feel no pain. Besides, the egg retrieval process is performed under mild sedation. In short, IVF is not painful at all.
Myth 7#: IVF is very costly
IVF treatment used to be very costly in the past, but not anymore. Advances in reproductive technology have made infertility treatments, including IVF, easier and more cost-effective than surrogacy cost.
IVF is an effective fertility treatment for couples struggling to have children. However, the myths surrounding in vitro fertilization can deter people from taking the next step. Knowing the facts from the fiction regarding IVF can help you make an informed decision. Hopefully, we have cleared up some of the IVF myths you have come across. But if you still have some questions, it is best to consult your doctor or a fertility expert.