How are IVF and Multiples Related?
By Dr. Kalan on May 16, 2018
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a multistep procedure to help a woman with fertility issues to conceive. It involves combining her egg cells with sperm so that a healthy embryo can form. The fertilization takes place in vitro, that is, outside of the mother's womb, in the laboratory.
Dr. Marc Kalan and Dr. Nurit Winkler, at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center (LARC) in Los Angeles, CA, have used IVF to help hundreds of parents realize the joy of having their own child. However, IVF has certain risks, one of which is a higher risk for multiple births. Consequently, the relationship between IVF and multiples bears a closer look.
Multiples Put Mothers and Babies at Higher Risk
The incidence of multiple births has nearly doubled over the past 50 years. This is a significant issue, because it places mothers and babies at increased risk for complications.
For example, mothers and their twins, triplets, and higher-order multiple births suffer an increased likelihood of premature birth, developmental delays, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and lifelong disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.
Does IVF Increase the Chance of Multiples?
Certainly, the process of IVF can increase the likelihood of multiple births. In past years, doctors transferred up to six embryos to the mother to improve the chances that at least one would survive until birth. Parents that wanted to have a child often preferred the transfer of multiple embryos to improve their chances of success. Too often, however, it produced multiple births, along with the problems that accompany them.
This caused doctors to rethink this practice, particularly with the improved techniques that have been developed over the past 20 years. Even so, there are legitimate factors that can favor increasing the number of embryos to be transferred. These include the mother's age, genetic findings, the quality of the embryo, the precise day of the transfer, etc. Thus, there is no cookie-cutter approach to this decision.
Deciding What Is Best for You
To help with the decision-making process, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has established guidelines, which recommend specific limits for the number of embryos transferred. Consequently, in the absence of mitigating factors, many doctors now recommend the routine transfer of a single embryo. Not only does it decrease risks for mother and baby, some studies suggest that, given today's advanced technology, a single embryo transfer is as likely to produce a healthy pregnancy as a multi-embryo transfer, without the increased risk of multiple births.
Drs. Kalan and Winkler realize that every patient and every cycle is different. They will help you compare the risks and benefits of the various choices you have so you can make an informed decision that is right for you. They will consider your unique circumstances, such as your age or history of failed attempts, and they will make recommendations based them. In the end, they will do whatever is necessary to help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.
To learn more about IVF, or any other fertility issue, call Drs. Kalan and Winkler at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center (LARC). They can tend to your needs at any of their four convenient locations. Give them a call or leave a message online.
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