Myths of IVF are very commonly found in our society these days. In-vitro fertilization has quite literally emerged as a boon for couples struggling to conceive a child. Over the decades, it has helped countless couples to become parents of healthy children. But despite its success, IVF is still surrounded by numerous myths and rumours. None of them contains any shred of truth, but they continue to be widespread and stop many couples from seeking the help of IVF.
So, let us try to dispel the darkness of myths that surround IVF and allow aspiring parents to know the treatment better.
Myths Of IVF 1: Infertility is a problem that only occurs in women.
Busted: Such misconception is generally born from social norms that place too much focus on female fertility and renders male fertility as a given. In reality, both men and women face fertility issues in their lives. In fact, it has been found that among all couples that face fertility issues, one-third of the times it would be due to the male partner, while another one-third of the times it would be due to the female partner. The rest of the times both partners could have fertility issues and/or have unexplained infertility causes. In short, both men and women have somewhat equal probability of suffering from infertility, though the causes differ in both. Infertility is not restricted to heterosexual couples either. LGBTQ couples often face infertility problem too.
Myths Of IVF 2: IVF is a very painful and difficult procedure.
Busted: The first impression of IVF makes most people assume that it must be an excruciating procedure. Well, that’s largely untrue. Despite the apparent intrusive methods, much of the treatment causes no pain at all. The only pain that might occur would be during the egg collection when a special thin needle is used to do follicular puncture. Even then, the pain is no more than a regular injection. The embryo transfer, despite the misconceptions, is completely pain-free. For the male partner, the treatment is entirely devoid of any pain.
IVF can be a lengthy process, taking up to a month for each cycle. As such, it can cause some discomfort for the patients. This would only increase with multiple cycles. However, such discomfort is common in all such treatments, so there is nothing to get alarmed about.
Myths Of IVF 3: IVF procedure carries heavy risks for its participants.
Busted: Safety is the paramount concern of patients in any procedure, and so it no surprise that many patients fear IVF to be a very risky procedure. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Every fertility expert will tell you that IVF is an extremely safe procedure. Some 2% of the patients can face ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHS) during the hormone therapy, but it is not a significant risk. Any other risk related to IVF is trivial. In fact, IVF is safer than most fertility treatment options.
Another related myth is that IVF can cause cancer or raise the risk of getting cancer. This claim has absolutely no truth in it. While breast and ovarian cancers are quite common among women and are caused by a variety of factors, IVF isn’t one of them. Multiple studies, the most recent being in 2018 over 250,000 women, established that IVF has an insignificant impact over cancer risks.
Myths Of IVF 4: Babies born can have some abnormalities.
Busted: Perhaps the biggest myth associated with IVF, it is also the most baseless. Multiple studies over the years have proved that children born via IVF are as healthy as naturally-conceived children. This means that while IVF babies can certainly form abnormalities, the risk of it is no more than that in naturally-conceived babies. Any difference seen in IVF babies at the time of birth is trivial and would gradually disappear with time. Perhaps the best display of this would be Louise, a UK woman who was the first baby conceived through IVF. Not only is she completely healthy and normal, but she went on to have her own child via IVF many years later.
Another related myth is that babies born via IVF can become infertile later in life. This claim is absolutely baseless – no correlation between IVF conception and infertility has ever been found. Infertility can be hereditary and thus passed from the parents, but IVF plays no role in it.
Myths Of IVF 5: IVF leads to twins and other higher-order births.
Busted: There is some truth to that – you are more likely to have twins with IVF compared to a natural pregnancy. However, such risks always exist when you go for assisted fertility options. In IVF, multiple embryos were used in the past, which led to higher-order births like twins, triplets and even quadruplets. However, modern IVF doesn’t require any more than 2 embryos. In fact, elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET) actually requires only one ideal embryo, thus largely eliminating the risk of multiple births.
It must be remembered that while risk of higher-order births exists in all assisted fertility treatments, it is the lowest in IVF. This implies that you are less likely to have twins or more with IVF, compared to any other assisted fertility treatment or even with fertility drugs. In the US, only 12.8% of IVF births in 2015 led to twins, while merely 0.8% led to triplets.
Myths Of IVF 6: IVF babies need to be delivered via caesarean.
Busted: Many parents are worried about caesarean delivery, as it can leave lasting marks on the mother. Somehow, a myth has formed that conception via IVF always leads to caesarean births. This claim has no truth to it whatsoever.
As mentioned earlier, IVF births are as normal as naturally-conceived births. Thus, IVF babies have the same probability of getting delivered normally. If some parents want to opt for caesarean delivery, they have the complete liberty to do so. However, it is completely false that IVF births lead to mandatory caesarean deliveries. The truth is that IVF neither promotes nor prohibits caesarean. Of course, some complications can compel the doctor to go with caesarean delivery; however, the probability of it in IVF is the same as naturally-conceived babies.