25 Nov IVF Myths
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex process that can raise a lot of questions, and sometimes the answers people get are simply misunderstandings or myths. We are always available and eager to answer all IVF questions our patients or others may have.
We understand that it’s quite possible to have misunderstandings about IVF – about any complex medical treatment. Friends and family members can offer helpful advice on infertility treatments, but they may not have the best information.
And we are all well aware of the potential for coming across inaccurate information on the internet. For example, some people believe IVF is an experimental fertility treatment, which is certainly not the case.
It’s important for our patients to make their fertility treatment decisions based on facts, not myths. Knowing the facts, what to expect and all in the proper context helps a person be comfortable and emotionally invested in the treatment. IVF can be taxing enough, and going into it with misinformation makes it more difficult on the individuals experiencing its challenges.
No matter where these myths come from, the Fertility Specialists Medical Group physicians know that addressing them is an important part of our care. Below are the four most common misconceptions we find people have about IVF.
IVF myth #1: The implanted embryo will fall out
FSMG’s Dr. Arlene Morales says if she never hears this myth again it will be too soon! Yet, some people think if they don’t rest in bed and be very careful in their movements right after IVF implantation, the embryo may fall out.
There is no evidence that bed rest or taking time off after an IVF transfer will improve the outcome. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is evidence that bed rest after an embryo transfer may negatively affect the outcome of IVF.
The embryo, once properly implanted, will not move or fall out. Dr. Morales compares the implantation of the embryo to inserting a sesame seed into a peanut butter jar – it’s not going to fall out.
IVF myth #2: Multiples are to be expected with IVF
This myth about having a multiples pregnancy (more than one fetus) didn’t start as a myth. In the early days of IVF, it was very common for fertility specialists to implant three to four embryos in the uterus. In fact, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the birth rate of nonidentical twins dramatically increased in the last 30 years due to assisted reproduction treatment.
Having triplets or more (remember Octomom?) is never the goal with IVF, due to serious dangers it presents for both the mother and the children. For the mother, a multiples pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, Cesarean section, and gestational diabetes. A multiples baby is at increased risk of low birth weight and birth defects including autism, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing issues, and spine, heart and digestive tract problems.
Such potential issues make the myth that IVF always leads to multiples something to seriously consider when deciding on fertility treatment. However, over the years, improvements to technologies and techniques have allowed fertility specialists to become more precise. Our goal at FSMG (and ASRM’s) is a single, healthy baby. Through our IVF improvements, we have developed elective single embryo transfer (eSET). eSET reduces the risk of multiples by transferring only a single embryo.
The risk of having multiples is much lower with IVF than it has been, but it still is a possibility.
IVF myth #3: Young, healthy people do not have fertility issues
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states that out of 100 male/female couples, 12 to 13 will struggle with infertility and be unable to become pregnant within 12 months of trying. Over 6 million women in America ages 15-44 have problems becoming and staying pregnant, according to the Center for Disease Control.
While age and lifestyle can play a role in fertility, that does not mean infertility only happens to older, unhealthy people. Structural problems with the reproductive system can affect people of all ages. These can include fallopian tube blockage or damage, ovarian cysts, fibroids, undescended testes or congenital absence of the vas deferens.
Weight and fertility
While not every case of infertility is caused by weight, there are steps an individual can take to improve the chances of getting pregnant through weight management. According to ASRM, 12% of all primary infertility cases are due to the woman either being obese (6%) or being underweight (6%).
Disorders like endometriosis, a condition that develops when the tissue of the uterine lining grows outside the uterus and on other organs, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance, can cause infertility. These disorders can affect individuals no matter their health or age.
IVF myth #4: Fertility issues are always due to the woman
This is one of the most common myths fertility specialists spend time debunking. Men and women both experience infertility. ASRM states that 40% of infertility cases in male/female couples are due either solely to male infertility or have male infertility as a contributing factor.
Male infertility can be caused by hormonal issues, genetic conditions affecting sperm production or obstruction, exposure to steroids or environmental toxins, and more. While there are often no physical symptoms of male infertility, we frequently diagnose it following a sperm analysis.
When should you see a fertility specialist?
It can be hard to determine when to see a fertility specialist. For those trying to conceive, there are a few clear indicators that it’s time to see a specialist.