Approximately 8 million IVF children in total (from 1978 till date) have been born and over 2.5 million cycles are being performed in the world every year, as per a study published in the journal European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. This may be the most opportune time to understand In Vitro Fertilisation as a science and bust some myths surrounding it. IVF involves removing eggs from the female partner and fertilising them with the male partner’s sperm. The resulting embryo is put back into the womb of the female partner for it to grow into a baby. While it may seem simple, there are certain things that people still don’t understand by IVF, hence there are so many myths surrounding IVF.
Common IVF myths you should stop believing
Myth 1: IVF can be done at any age.
Though IVF can be done at any age, every country has certain rules and regulations. One has to strictly follow the age criteria. In India, according to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) act 2021, IVF can be offered to married couples provided the woman‘s age is between 21 to 50 years and the husband’s age is between 21- 55 years. Also, single women can undergo ART procedures.
Myth 2: IVF is only for infertile couple
Fact: Even fertile couples can get an IVF treatment done. Fertile couples can go for IVF treatment who have had a baby before if they have a genetic abnormality or they are carrying an abnormal gene. In such a situation, the embryos obtained from IVF are tested (PGT-M; pre implantation genetic testing-monogenic disorders), so that the future baby is free from that particular abnormality. In certain situations where women are putting off having a baby for reasons of career on non availability of a compatible partner, IVF can be done and eggs are frozen (social egg freezing) for future use. In people who have diseases like cancer which require radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment, IVF is done to store the eggs or ovaries to be used after the completion of treatment.
Myth 3: IVF leads to multiple pregnancies
Another myth is about increased propensity of multiple pregnancies after IVF treatment. Nowadays single embryo transfers are done and this avoids the chance of twin pregnancy to a large extent.
Myth 4: IVF children are more prone to birth abnormalities
There is a high degree of anxiety about genetic and developmental abnormality in IVF pregnancies. One has to note that even natural conceived pregnancies also contain 2-5 percent chance of genetic abnormality. Several studies have shown that chances of abnormality in IVF babies is almost the same as those with normal babies. However, in rare cases where the parents carry certain abnormalities, children have a chance to beget those unless specific tests are done in the embryo to rule out problem.
Myth 5: IVF procedures lead to weight gain in women
With regards to the procedure of the IVF itself the question in the couples’ mind is always whether the injections lead to weight gain in the woman. Slight weight gain during IVF stimulation is a result of hormones produced in the body which lead to fluid retention. This weight gain is usually temporary and can be controlled with proper diet and exercises.
Myth 6: You need complete bed rest post IVF procedure
One important misconception about IVF is the need for total bed rest. Many studies have shown that there is no need of bed rest post the embryo transfer. One can go back to work post embryo transfer with no negative impact on the pregnancy results.
Myth 7: IVF treatments increase cancer risk
Cancer risk post IVF treatment is an important question that needs to be addressed. A large study involving 40,000 women in Netherlands Cancer Institute which was published in 2021 did not find an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who have undergone three or more IVF treatments and after a long period of 20 years compared to women who have undergone other fertility treatments. When compared to general population women who are infertile and eventually do not conceive have a higher risk of ovarian cancer and this is not related to the treatment modality per se. It can be safely said that IVF by increasing the chances of pregnancy in infertile women whilst decreases their chance of having Ovarian cancer. There is also no increase in the risk of breast cancer in the lady post IVF treatment.
Also Read: Having children after cancer: These are some fertility treatment options
So, stop believing these IVF myths to have beautiful and healthy babies like you always wanted!