How to Decide If In Vitro Fertilization is for You

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common type of assisted reproductive technology (ART). The purpose of ART is to help you conceive a child when natural conception does not work.

Conception difficulty may occur if you or your partner have genetic infertility or medical problems causing infertility. Undergoing IVF can help you by making egg fertilization easier.

During IVF treatment, the eggs are extracted. The eggs are then are mixed with the sperm in a laboratory and implanted back into the body after fertilization. If you or your partner are infertile, then eggs or sperm may be obtained from a donor. A female gestational carrier or surrogate can also carry the pregnancy to term if you or your spouse are unable to do so. The process of IVF treatment can be quite complicated. Therefore, you must consider your options carefully before trying it. The following factors are important when determining if in vitro fertilization is right for you.

When In Vitro Fertilization is Used

In vitro fertilization is best used when you have already tried other options or when natural conception is impossible. For example, if you or your partner has blocked fallopian tubes, then eggs cannot reach the uterus. Therefore, natural fertilization cannot occur. You may also need IVF treatment to conceive if you or your partner have any of the following conditions:

  • Advanced age
  • Conditions affecting ovulation
  • Conditions affecting the uterus
  • Endometriosis
  • Low sperm production
  • Sperm incapable of surviving long enough for fertilization to occur
  • Freezing sperm or eggs for future use prior to medical treatment for serious diseases, like cancer

Unless you have an immediate need for in vitro fertilization, such as imminent cancer treatment, it is best to explore other options, first. For example, if you are only looking for assistance because you are a single female or in a same-sex relationship, then artificial insemination is an easier procedure to undergo. If you are a female with a male partner and one of you suffers from infertility, then you may also benefit from surgical procedures or fertility drugs.

Risks of Vitro Fertilization

There are several risks associated with in vitro fertilization you must consider before you try it. One is the procedure is lengthy. Expect to spend a lot of time and energy going to your clinic for treatments and follow up appointments. This process may be stressful and cause tension between you and your partner.

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Another in vitro fertilization risk is the chance of becoming pregnant with multiple babies. When multiple embryos are implanted, the possibility increases. According to the Mayo Clinic, any child conceived through in vitro fertilization is at slightly higher risk for low birth weight and premature birth. This risk increases when multiple fetuses are carried. Premature birth can cause complications for your child if his or her organs are not fully developed at the time of birth.

In vitro fertilization also presents several physical risks. For example, egg extraction presents some infection risks. Bladder and bowel damage can also occur. Additionally, anesthesia may be required to perform the procedure. Tell your doctor if you have ever had complications during anesthesia or have medical problems that may increase anesthesia risks.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can also occur when you undergo in vitro fertilization. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome causes your ovaries to swell. It may occur when certain fertility drugs are used. One such drug is human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

In Vitro Fertilization Success Rates

Positive results from in vitro fertilization are not guaranteed. The CDC periodically releases an ART Success Rates report. The most recent report, compiled in 2015, indicates maternal age is a large factor in determining your success rate.

According to the data, if you are a woman and undergo an ART procedure when you are younger 35 years of age, then you have a 38 percent chance of successfully giving birth to a live child. Your estimated chance of success lowers as you get older. If you are older than 44 years of age, then it is only three percent. The report includes data for all ART procedures, but most of the procedures performed are IVF treatments.

To increase your chances of successful IVF treatment, you must be as healthy as possible. Use of drugs or alcohol makes carrying a child to term more difficult. Your personal odds of success can also be reduced by as much as 50 percent if you are a smoker. The cause of your infertility also plays a role in the success of the treatment.

For example, if you are not producing many eggs, then harvesting them is difficult. Other factors potentially decreasing your chances of success include:

  • Damaged or underdeveloped embryos.
  • Having a history of miscarriages.
  • Never being pregnant before.
  • Undergoing previous unsuccessful IVF treatments.

In Vitro Fertilization Expenses

The expenses associated with in vitro fertilization vary. Each clinic charges a different amount for services. Also, factors like the reason for your infertility and whether you require a sperm or egg donor may impact how much you spend. However, a standard round of IVF treatment typically costs thousands of dollars because of how many procedures are involved in the treatment. Those procedures include:

  • Fertility drug treatments.
  • Surgical procedures.
  • Egg extraction.
  • Laboratory embryo handling.
  • Blood and genetic testing.
  • Embryo monitoring.
  • Anesthesia.
  • Freezing eggs for later use.

As of 2017, only 15 U.S. states require IVF treatment to be at least partially covered by health insurance. Even if your insurance does provide partial coverage, the full fees associated with treatment may not be covered. Therefore, you must prepare to deplete your savings or accumulate debt. Since IVF treatment is typically more successful when you are young, postponing treatment until you can save enough money is counterproductive.

If the first round of IVF treatment is unsuccessful, then you may opt to try again. Doing so increases your expenses. However, if extra eggs are harvested during the first session, then they can be frozen. During the new treatment, frozen eggs can be used. The cost of a frozen embryo transfer procedure is typically lower than the cost of a fresh IVF cycle.

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