What is in vitro fertilization?
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a treatment used to assist women who have fertility or conception issues. It is one of the most effective types of reproductive technology and can be especially beneficial for older women who are struggling to conceive.
The first procedure of IVF is to collect mature eggs from that patient’s ovaries. The male’s sperm is collected around the same time. The collected eggs are then fertilized with the sperm using special lab equipment. Then in another procedure, the eggs are placed back in the woman’s uterus where they hopefully implant and result in a pregnancy. The eggs and/or sperm could be from donors, depending on the circumstances and desires of the patients.
Who can benefit from in vitro fertilization?
IVF is the primary treatment for women over the age of 40 who are experiencing infertility or have difficulties conceiving. The rate of egg implantation is lower for older women, so typically IVF involves more than one egg being transferred back into the uterus. This lower implantation rate may be corrected by performing genetic testing on the embryos (pre-implantation genetic screening or PGS) for screen for aneuploidy. When embryos are known to be euploid, the lower rate of implantation in older women disappears.
Women who wish to control their pregnancy timing could also benefit from IVF. While younger, some women choose to freeze eggs for future use. This is especially beneficial for women who do not wish to conceive until they are older. However, that requires long-term planning.
What are the possible risks of in vitro fertilization?
With multiple procedures involved in this treatment, there are several possible risks with IVF. They include:
- Twins or triplets. Using multiple eggs for IVF (in older women) increases the chance that more than one egg will implant, resulting in a multiples pregnancy.
- Early delivery and low birth weight. IVF can increase the risk that the mother delivers the baby early and/or that the baby has a low birth weight.
- Miscarriage. The rate of miscarriage after IVF is about the same as those who naturally conceive. However, as the mother ages, the rate of miscarriages increases.
- Complications from the egg retrieval. The egg-retrieval procedure could cause damage to the intestines or bladder, infection, or bleeding.
- Ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the eggs implants outside of the uterus, which is a place it cannot survive.
Contact your local URA clinic in Hasbrouck Heights, Hoboken, and Wayne, NJ for more information. Your friendly URA team will be happy to provide more details on IVF for women older 40 and discuss treatment options.