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A Complete Guide to IVF: Everything you need to know about In Vitro Fertilization

Table of Contents

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on IVF. This is the first part of a long journey where we will learn everything there is to know about IVF. The purpose of this guide is to provide patients with extensive yet digestible, factual knowledge. During our journey, we will go in-depth about different aspects of IVF, such as:

  • What IVF is, how it works, its risks and comparisons to other treatments
  • IVF and Female Infertility: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
  • IVF and Male Infertility: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
  • IVF Success Rates by Age, Diagnosis, and Additional Treatments
  • How To Prepare For IVF: Diet, Exercise, And Lifestyle Guide For IVF Success
  • IVF Treatment: Step by Step
  • After IVF: Implantation, the 2-Week Wait, and Failure
  • Cost of IVF
  • Comprehensive Guide to IVF Treatment in Turkey: Cost, Planning, Experience

By the time you finish this guide, you will have a clear understanding of all of these topics, so you can make an informed decision on if you want to get IVF, as we believe an informed patient is a happy patient. To accompany you throughout this guide we also prepared a glossary to help you with IVF terminology, which can be difficult to keep track of.

In this chapter, we will give you a basic overview of IVF, what it is, how it works, the different types of IVF, how IVF compares to other procedures, and whether you should consider IVF or not . We will provide in-depth information about the subjects mentioned above in the later chapters. We recommend that you read the guide in order of the numbered chapters, but you’re welcome to skip to the chapters you’re most interested in.

What is IVF?

IVF means In Vitro Fertilization. The word ‘vitro’ comes from Latin, and means ‘glass’ or ‘in the glass’. Today, ‘in vitro’ refers to all the procedures in medicine that take place outside the human body or in a lab, usually on a glass petri dish. So, contrary to popular belief, IVF babies are not made in test tubes.

IVF is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to help people with fertility problems.

During IVF, hormone therapy is used to stimulate egg production and bypass the natural cycle. Then, human gametes are collected; and they are put in an environment suitable for insemination. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, an embryo develops and is put back into the mother’s womb, which develops into a baby.

What is an IVF cycle?

An IVF cycle is a round of IVF therapy. An IVF round starts on the first day of the menstrual cycle, which is the first day of your period, or it can start a few days before with ovarian stimulation also known as ovulation induction. Then, your eggs will be collected, fertilized, and put back into your womb. This entire procedure is an IVF cycle or an IVF round.

When was IVF invented?

An Infographic That Shows History Of Ivf

The history of IVF goes back to the 1890’s when the technique started to develop with studies on animals. The first embryo transfer was performed on rabbits by Walter Heape at Cambridge University. During the 1950’s first IVF births were achieved by Dr. Min Chueh Chang on rabbits, which proved that the IVF process could result in the birth of healthy babies. After studies and trials on mammal animals proved to be successful enough, it was time to perform these treatments on humans.

The first attempt to fertilize human gametes in vitro was in 1965, and the procedure was performed by a group of doctors at John Hopkins Hospital in the United States. 8 years later, the first pregnancy achieved by IVF was reported by a research team from Monash University, Australia. Unfortunately, it resulted in an early miscarriage. Though this miscarriage decreased morale in the scientific community, hope was restored when in 1976, there was a report of an ectopic pregnancy. Though ectopic pregnancies cannot result in birth, they still brought hope to the field as they showed that a zygote developed in vitro could survive, and implant.

On July 25th, 1978, the world witnessed the birth of the first baby conceived through IVF, Louise Brown. Louise was born in England, with the procedure performed by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. The birth of the first IVF baby in Australia came a year after. And in 1981, the first IVF baby in the US was born. [1]

How many IVF babies are there?

It’s estimated that since the birth of Louise Brown, over 8 million babies have been born through IVF. [2]

When did IVF become common?

IVF became more common in the 1980’s, and by the 1990’s it was mainstream.

How common is IVF?

IVF and other ART procedures are more common than they have ever been. 2,5 million IVF cycles are conducted, and around 500.000 IVF babies are born every year throughout the world. [2] In the US, it’s estimated that 1.5% to 5% of all children being born every year were conceived through IVF. [3] And in France, it’s estimated that one in 27 children were conceived through ART in 2020. [4]

How does IVF work?

An Infographic About Ivf Procedure Steps

Later, we will go over how IVF works in detail, for now let’s summarise the basic steps:

Ovarian Stimulation:
During ovarian stimulation, hormones are administered to boost egg production.

Trigger shot:
A final dose of Luteinizing Hormone is administered for oocyte maturation and ovulation before egg retrieval.

Egg & sperm retrieval:
36 hours after the trigger shot, egg and sperm retrieval are performed on the same day.

The oocyte is fertilized with the spermatozoa in vitro, or a spermatozoon is injected into the egg with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). The zygote starts to develop in 24 hours. After this step, Preimplantation Genetic Testing can be used to see if you have a healthy embryo.

Embryo Transfer/ Embryo Cryopreservation:
5 days after fertilization when the embryo is in the blastocyst stage, it’s transferred back into the uterus or cryopreserved. Frozen embryos can be transferred at a later date.

How long does IVF take?

Depends. An average cycle of IVF usually takes about 21 to 28 days. Starting from the first day of ovarian stimulation, and ending with the transfer. There are a few factors that can affect the duration of the procedure:

  • Stimulation Protocol: Depending on the protocol used for stimulation, the duration can be longer or shorter.

  • Transfer Day: Transfer is conducted 3 to 5 days after fertilization. Most doctors today prefer 5th or 6th-day blastocyst transfer.
  • IVF Cancellation: If the ovaries do not react to stimulation as expected and don’t produce enough follicles, the cycle might be canceled.

  • FET: If you choose to go with a frozen transfer, your cycle will be done with egg retrieval, and will continue in the future for the frozen transfer. Or you can choose to go with a fresh transfer and freeze extra embryos.

How many cycles of IVF to get pregnant?

It’s recommended that people go through at least 3 cycles of IVF. Keep in mind that there is a 33% chance that you will be able to conceive in your first round, and this number more than doubles up to the 8th round, it’s possible to see success rates as high as 77%. [5] After 3 cycles, you and your doctor can discuss additional procedures for IVF or other possible ART options. It’s still possible to get pregnant and give birth after multiple failed IUI or IVF rounds, so it’s important to not lose your enthusiasm.

Does IVF always work?

As mentioned above, there is a 33% chance that your first round of IVF will be successful. The chances of pregnancy with IVF go up with each consecutive round. But keep in mind that the chances of success are significantly lower with increased maternal age. Some people have a successful pregnancy on their first cycles, while some people need up to 10 cycles to give birth.In chapter 4 of our guide, we explain the success rates of IVF in detail where you can learn more about how factors like age, or previous diagnoses influence outcomes.

Why do people do IVF?

An Infographic About Why Do People Do Ivf

There are multiple factors and reasons why people choose to get IVF, and it’s different for everyone. Each case and circumstance is unique, but here are some common reasons why people use IVF to get pregnant.

IVF for genetic reasons

Infertile people might have trouble conceiving because of genetic disorders. Genetic illnesses such as Cystic Fibrosis, Kallmann Syndrome, Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, Klinefelter Syndrome, or a family history of conditions such as endometriosis, or early ovarian failure can cause infertility. IVF can be utilized for fertilization when the patients have a genetic disease, or these patients can get IVF to prevent genetic diseases from passing down to their children. With Preimplantation Genetic Testing, patients can choose an embryo that does not have genetic abnormalities that can cause problems.

IVF for recurrent miscarriages

Some people might have no problem when it comes to fertilization, however, they may have difficulty when it comes to implantation and carrying to term. IVF can be helpful in these situations to increase the chances of implantation, full-term pregnancy, and live birth.

IVF for fertility preservation

You might not feel ready to have a child yet, or you might have some health conditions that are threatening your fertility. You can freeze your gametes to preserve your fertility, and conceive later in life with IVF.

IVF for infertility

While most people can get a diagnosis on why they’re infertile, some people don’t. Unexplained Infertility is more common than we all realize, and IVF is still the most successful option when it comes to treating idiopathic diagnosis.

IVF vs Natural Conception

To get a better understanding of IVF, let’s compare it with the natural process that happens in the body. Compared to natural conception, IVF has various benefits that increase the chances of fertilization significantly. In circumstances where natural pregnancy wouldn’t be possible, IVF bypasses these factors for the best results. Essentially, you can think of IVF as the betterment and optimization of natural conception to boost its success in a safe and controlled manner.

How is IVF different from natural conception?

  • In IVF, the fertilization process happens ‘in vitro’ (outside the body) while in natural fertilization it happens ‘in vivo’ (inside the body).
  • When a woman ovulates every month during her natural cycle, her ovaries release just one oocyte, meaning if this egg gets fertilized you’ll have one embryo. If this one embryo splits into 2 at an early stage, they become identical twins. Sometimes, the ovaries release 2 eggs at the same time, and they both get fertilized, which is how fraternal twins are conceived. So, ovaries mostly release 1-2 eggs every cycle. But with IVF, this process is amplified with medications so the ovaries can produce many eggs at once. This increases the chance of getting pregnant since there are more eggs to fertilize.
  • In the body, the spermatozoa have to travel through the female reproductive system to find the egg and fertilize it. Many factors can affect the success of this process. But with IVF, this process is bypassed and the optimal environment is created in vitro for fertilization.
  • During natural insemination and regular IVF, multiple spermatozoa fight to fertilize the egg. But if the IVF procedure is supplemented with ICSI, one single sperm cell can be injected into the egg.
  • In the body, fertilization usually occurs in the fallopian tube, and on the 3rd day, the zygote travels down to the uterus to implant itself. Now, previously in IVF and other reproductive treatments, the transfer after fertilization would also be made on the 3rd day into the fallopian tube. However, this process resulted in many ectopic pregnancies. Now during IVF, 5th or 6th-day embryos are transferred directly into the uterus as they have better chances of surviving and resulting in a live birth.
An Infographic That Shows Differences Of Ivf And Natural Conception

What are the types of IVF?

Now that we have learned how IVF differs from natural fertilization, let’s look at the types of IVF. Not all types of IVF are the same or have the same process. Patients might be suitable for one more than the other. Each type of IVF has its benefits and downsides.

Frozen Embryo Transfer: What does FET mean in IVF?

FET refers to frozen embryo transfer. After fertilization occurs, it’s possible to freeze embryos to use at a later date. This procedure is very useful if you want to have a child later in life, if you would like to have another baby in the future with IVF, or if your doctor thinks it’s better to go through transfer later to optimize the uterus for implantation.

What is the difference between IVF and FET?

FET is an additional step that can take place during IVF. Essentially, to go through FET, you have to go through the same stimulation and retrieval process as IVF. But you can freeze your embryos to use at a later date

What is the difference between fresh and frozen IVF transfer?

During fresh transfer IVF, when the embryo reaches the blastocyst stage, it’s transferred back into the uterus immediately, which happens on day 5 or 6 after fertilization.

For frozen transfer IVF, embryos do not need to be transferred immediately. They can be frozen, and be thawed at a later date. Patients can freeze all their embryos. Or, after a fresh transfer, they can choose to freeze the rest of the embryos available. Before the frozen transfer, the patient will go through another round of IVF to optimize the condition of the uterus.

Frozen Vs Fresh Ivf Transfer

Natural IVF: What is natural IVF?

Natural IVF is when the Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation part of IVF is ruled out of the process. The eggs are left to develop with the natural cycle, completely avoiding any risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. The only hormone injection during natural IVF is the use of ovulation trigger before the egg retrieval. Natural IVF is most often combined with IVM (In Vitro Maturation).

What is the difference between IVF and natural IVF?

During a regular cycle of IVF, women take multiple medications to stimulate the growth of eggs in the ovaries. With the help of these medications, multiple eggs mature at the same time. This means that multiple eggs can be retrieved, and fertilized; directly increasing the chances of IVF working.

With natural IVF, no medications are used to increase the number of eggs being developed. This results in 1 or 2 eggs being retrieved for insemination.

Compared to IVF, when going through natural IVF there is no risk of Developing OHSS or any other side effects caused by the medications. This makes it a viable choice for people who have reacted negatively to prior cycles.

However, since the amount of eggs retrieved is very low, natural IVF has a significantly lower success rate compared to regular IVF.

An Infographic

Mini IVF: What is mini IVF?

Mini IVF, also known as micro IVF is the same procedure as conventional IVF. The only difference is the amount of medication used during ovarian stimulation. The eggs are collected and fertilized in the same way. After fertilization, a fresh or frozen transfer can be performed.

What is the difference between IVF and mini IVF?

During conventional IVF, several medications are used to stimulate the ovaries, and in turn, they produce multiple eggs. During mini IVF, the doses of these medications are reduced significantly.

A lower dose of medications is a great way to prevent unwanted side effects like OHSS. But a lower dose means fewer eggs are being produced, which means mini IVF has a lower success rate than conventional IVF.

Other than the stimulation process being less invasive, mini IVF is the same as conventional IVF.

An Infographic That Shpws The Differences Between Ivf And Mini Ivf

What are my other options besides IVF?

VF and its various subtypes are not the only fertility treatments out there. There are multiple types of ART to help people achieve their goals of becoming a mother or a father. Some of these options are add-ons to the IVF process itself to increase its chances, and some of them are processes similar to IVF. And when severe infertility is present, IVF can be conducted with donor gametes. And obviously, adoption is also an option when you want to become a parent. Now let’s take a look at what kind of ART treatments and procedures are available to people that want to have a child.

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is the umbrella term used for the procedures and technologies developed as treatments for infertility. The most well-known types of ART are IVF, IUI, also known as artificial insemination, Ovulation Induction, and ICSI. The goal of these treatments is to result in a successful pregnancy followed by a healthy, live birth.

What are the other Assisted Reproductive Technologies besides IVF?

Other Assisted Reproductive Technologies

As we learned above, IVF is just one type of treatment under the Assisted Reproductive Technology umbrella. There are many different types of ART to help people with fertility problems. Some of these procedures have a different methodology than IVF, and some can be used in conjunction with IVF. Depending on the type of infertility you have, some of these treatments can be used in place of IVF, or they can be used with IVF to improve your results.

An Infographic Of Intrauterine Insemination Iui

What is IUI?

IUI, also known as Intrauterine Insemination, is a type of artificial insemination. During IUI, the semen sample is washed until only the spermatozoa are left, and it’s injected directly into the uterus. This makes it easier for them to find their way to fertilize the egg. IUI is usually the first course of treatment for less severe forms of infertility, or unexplained infertility. IUI can be performed with or without ovarian stimulation. If it is performed with ovarian stimulation, there is a higher chance of multiple pregnancies.

IUI vs IVF: What is the difference between IUI and IVF?

IVF and IUI are both procedures to help people get pregnant, but they are not complementary. As IUI is the less invasive of the two methods, it’s generally recommended that infertile couples try at least 3 to 6 cycles of IUI before considering IVF. [6] [7] Generally, IUI is both less expensive and less invasive than IVF; but it is not as effective.

While IVF is useful when it comes to treating infertility caused by tubal problems, IUI cannot treat infertility caused by tubal problems. If there is damage to the fallopian tubes, IUI cannot work as intended since the sperm cannot reach the oocyte.

Most importantly, in IVF, fertilization happens in a petri dish while in IVF it happens inside the body, in the fallopian tubes. For this reason, many consider IUI to be more natural than IVF.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

What is the difference between ICSI and IVF?

As mentioned above, ICSI is a complementary procedure to IVF and can be performed in conjunction. During IVF, multiple spermatozoa are left with the egg to fertilize it by themselves. However, depending on the spermatozoa or egg quality, this might not lead to insemination or fertilization. In cases where the poor egg or sperm quality might be present, ICSI is employed.

In Vitro Maturation

What is IVM?

n Vitro Maturation is a technique where eggs are collected when they haven’t reached maturation. During a regular IVF cycle, with the help of hormones, multiple eggs reach maturity, and only if they reach this stage of maturation they’re collected. With IVM, oocytes can be collected before maturation, eliminating the need for Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation. After the collection of immature oocytes, they are left to develop further in a nutrient-rich fluid in the lab. When they reach the desired maturation, they can be subjected to insemination via IVF or ICSI and transferred back into the uterus. IVM is most often used in conjunction with natural IVF to increase its chances.

What is the difference betwee IVM and IVF?

IVM is a complementary treatment cycle to IVF. So it’s possible to use these processes in the same cycle. IVM by itself is not a process of insemination, so it has no use without being used in conjunction with IVF or ICSI.

The difference between the IVF cycles where IVM is used is the absence of Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation. As the eggs will mature in a lab, there is no need to encourage their development ‘in vivo’ with medication. The only medication is given to trigger ovulation before egg retrieval.

An Infographic Of Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer

What is GIFT?

GIFT(Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer) is a type of ART where human gametes are placed together in the fallopian tube. It’s a treatment developed for male factor infertility. The oocyte is retrieved from the ovaries and put into the tube with the spermatozoa, with the goal of fertilization. Since IVF became mainstream, GIFT has been losing its popularity.

What is the difference between GIFT and IVF?

GIFT is just as invasive as IVF, if not more since it must be performed with laparoscopy.

The fertilization takes place in the body; in that aspect, GIFT is more similar to IUI than IVF.

Both in GIFT and IVF, ovaries are stimulated and eggs are retrieved. In GIFT, the egg is put in the fallopian tubes with spermatozoa. In IVF the egg is fertilized in vitro, and put back into the uterus.

With GIFT, there must be at least one healthy fallopian tube, but IVF can still be performed if both tubes are damaged.

An Infographic Of Zygote Introfallopian Transfer

What is ZIFT?

ZIFT is a type of ART that was popular before IVF, and its popularity has been declining ever since. It’s a method that proved to be successful in patients with tubal blockages. Its popularity has been declining with IVF’s rising popularity due to higher success rates.

What is the difference between ZIFT and IVF?

During ZIFT, a 3rd-day transfer is made into the fallopian tube while in conventional IVF, 5th-day transfers into the uterus are more common. This is because on the 3rd day of development, the embryo is still traveling through the fallopian tube, and on around the 5th-6th day it reaches the uterus to implant. Blastocyst transfers are more reliable as they have better implantation rates than zygote transfers.

With ZIFT , at least one of the fallopian tubes must be healthy, but IVF can still be performed even if both tubes are damaged.

Other than when and where the embryo is transferred, the processes for ZIFT and IVF are the same.

Reciprocal IVF

With reciprocal IVF, also known as gestational surrogacy, one woman’s egg is fertilized, and the embryo is carried by another woman. This is an option for infertile women who are having difficulty with implantation and have been through recurrent miscarriages. Gestational surrogacy requires that both the genetic mother and the carrying mother go through the IVF process; as the genetic mother will need to provide the eggs and the carrying mother needs to have a healthy and optimized uterus. This is also a popular choice for lesbian couples, as they can both be involved in the process.


Surrogacy also includes reciprocal IVF, but it’s more like an umbrella term. The surrogate is the person who carries the baby. IVF Surrogacy has 2 types. With Gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not related to the baby genetically. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the genetic mother of the baby. Traditional surrogacy is still very controversial as there is the question of ‘Whose baby is it?’. But gestational surrogacy is becoming more common. Still, it’s a very long and difficult process with a lot of emotional stress and fine legal details.

Sperm Donation

IVF with donor sperm is recommended for couples with severe male factor infertility such as globozoospermia. In some cases, even choosing the best spermatozoon available with IMSI might not be enough to fertilize the egg. Sperm donation is also an option for single women that want to become a mother by themselves, or for lesbian couples.

Egg Donation

IVF with donor eggs is a great option for female factor infertility. A woman can suffer from poor egg quality due to advanced age, genetic diseases, diminished ovarian reserves, etc. With egg donation, infertile women can get pregnant. And in cases both male and female factor fertility is present, using a good quality donor egg can help the sperm with fertilization. Egg donation combined with surrogacy is also a great option for gay couples.

Embryo Donation

In cases where partners cannot produce quality embryos, embryo donation might be the best option to conceive. Or, the partners may suffer from genetic diseases they might not want to pass down to their children. In these cases, with the generosity of people donating unused embryos, severely infertile couples can also become pregnant.


If you’re not suitable to receive any of these treatments, you can consider adoption. We believe adoptive parents love their children just as much. And we know that anyone seeking fertility treatments desires to become a parent first and foremost, whether there is a genetic relationship or not.

Which ART is right for me?

Depending on your situation, you might have an idea of which one of these treatments would be suitable for you. But as always, when it comes to deciding which type of ART to pursue, you must consult a fertility specialist. A good fertility clinic and specialist will provide you with all the information you need and will guide you through the process.

Your fertility specialist will decide what is the best procedure for your concerns after conducting multiple tests and consultations; the decision will also depend on your medical and reproductive history and what type of fertility treatments you’re interested in. Let’s do a quick overview and comparison of some ART procedures when it comes to popularity, duration, and what they’re best at treating.

Ivf Duration Table
W Table That Shows Which Ivf Type Best For Male Or Female
How Common Is Ivf
A Table That Shows Where Does Ivf Types Take Place

When to consider IVF?

It’s important to remmeber that the number one factor affecting fertility is age. For this reason it’s crucial that people become informed so they can consider IVF or fertility preservation at a young age. We also think it’s necessary that people go though some form of fertility evaluation, even if they’re not intending to conceive, to avoid a surprise infertility diagnosis. If you have one or more of the following conditions, you can consider getting IVF.

When To Consider Ivf
  • You’ve been trying to conceive for 6 to 12 months with no success.
  • You have genetic diseases you wish to avoid passing down to your child.
  • You’ve had at least 3 cycles of IUI or other less invasive ART cycles with no success.
  • You’re of advanced maternal age and want to get pregnant as soon as possible.
  • You have diminished ovarian reserve.
  • You have an irregular menstrual cycle and problems with ovulation due to PCOS.
  • You have endometriosis.
  • You’ve been previously sterilized or had damage to your tubes.
  • You’re having problems with carrying to term.
  • You have male factor infertility (low sperm count, ejaculatory duct obstruction, etc.).
  • You’re a cancer patient about to go through cancer treatment, or there is a history of cancer in your family (ovarian cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.).

As IVF’s efficiency declines with age, getting this treatment when you’re as young as possible is important. But the reality is that not everyone is ready to have children at a young age. If you wish to become a parent later in life, we recommend fertility preservation at a younger age through egg freezing, and sperm freezing in cases where:

  • You are a cancer patient and about to go through cancer treatment.
  • You wish to have a child later in life.
  • You have diminished ovarian reserves or a woman in your family has previously been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserves or early menopause.

Is IVF worth it?

In a survey conducted with patients that went through IVF, 94% of the participants stated that they were glad they tried IVF. 82% stated that their life was not negatively affected by IVF [9] . So it seems that most people who went through IVF had a relatively positive experience whether they had a baby or not; most participants were glad that IVF existed, and was an option available. Of course, to decide if it is a good option for you, you should weigh the pros and cons of IVF yourself. Let’s look at the risks of IVF to get a better idea on what can go wrong.

What are the risks of IVF?

Of course, like any procedure, IVF comes with its own risks. We can roughly put these risks into 3 groups; risks due to procedures, risks due to medications, and risks due to pregnancy. Let’s go over these risks one by one so you can weigh the benefits of IVF with its disadvantages and can make an informed decision.

Risks of egg retrieval: During egg retrieval, a device with a needle is inserted from the vagina, and the needle punctures the ovaries to collect eggs. This procedure is usually harmless, with minimal pain, but there is a risk of infections, blood clots, and bleeding after the procedure.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: OHSS is when the ovaries overreact to fertility drugs. More eggs than intended start growing in the ovaries, and it causes swelling, and pain. Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea. There are precautions in place to prevent OHSS, such as adjusting the dose or type of medications. If you think you’re having OHSS symptoms, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Multiple births: If more than one embryo is transferred during IVF to increase success rates, there is a chance of multiple births. As IVF by itself is classified as a high-risk pregnancy, having multiple fetuses can only increase the risks. To prevent multiple births, there are legislations in place that limit the number of embryos transferred.

Ectopic pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterine lining, most commonly in the fallopian tubes. It’s impossible for the embryo to survive somewhere than the uterus, so the embryo either dies or needs to be terminated. The rate of ectopic pregnancies after IVF is thought to be around 2.1–8.6% [10].

Miscarriage: Miscarriage rates after IVF are similar to miscarriage with natural conception. The most important factors negatively affecting these rates are age, weight, substance use, and stress [11].

IVF side effects on baby: IVF babies are at a slightly higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight, perinatal mortality, and congenital malformations. [12] [13] [15]. 

Cancer: There is not enough evidence in the literature that suggests IVF causes any type of cancer. Some studies suggest that medications used during ovarian stimulation can increase the risk for hormone-sensitive cancers but the data is insufficient and research is needed.

Should I do IVF?

If you’re at the point where you’re considering IVF, there is a chance you might be eligible. If you have one or more of the conditions previously mentioned, and after weighing the pros, cons, and risks of the treatment, if you’re still considering IVF, we recommend you book an appointment with a fertility specialist or a fertility clinic as soon as possible. With the right guidance, and with tests you can find the best course of treatment. To get an idea if you need IVF or not, you can take our IVF fertility quiz. 


[1] Feuer, S K et al. “ART and health: clinical outcomes and insights on molecular mechanisms from rodent studies.” Molecular human reproduction vol. 19,4 (2013): 189-204. doi:10.1093/molehr/gas066

[2] ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. “Birth defects and congenital health risks in children conceived through assisted reproduction technology (ART): a meeting report.” Journal of assisted reproduction and genetics vol. 31,8 (2014): 947-58. doi:10.1007/s10815-014-0255-7

[3] Romundstad, Liv Bente et al. “Effects of technology or maternal factors on perinatal outcome after assisted fertilisation: a population-based cohort study.” Lancet (London, England) vol. 372,9640 (2008): 737-43. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61041-7

[4] Yeung, E H et al. “Infertility treatment and children’s longitudinal growth between birth and 3 years of age.” Human reproduction (Oxford, England) vol. 31,7 (2016): 1621-8. doi:10.1093/humrep/dew106


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