IVF Side Effects and Risks

IVF Side Effects and Risks

In Vitro fertilization (IVF), known as test tube baby in a lay man’s language is a procedure where an egg taken from a female’s body is injected by a sperm taken from her husband’s semen sample. The egg and sperm are fertilized outside a female’s body and in a petri dish at a laboratory. Normally this process takes place within a female’s reproductive system.

Hence IVF is an assisted reproductive technique that helps infertile couples to conceive by offering assistance, and by bypassing the abnormality that is causing infertility. The procedure includes a whole team of expert embryologists, IVF consultants and gynecologists working together to help achieve the desired result of a positive pregnancy.


Like any other procedure, IVF also has some side effects but thanks to the advanced technology, these side effects quite minimal. They include;

  • Cramping in the abdomen- this is usually mild
  • Constipation- this is quite common but is easily relieved by increased water intake
  • Bloating- this is also mild and goes away after a few weeks
  • A small amount of liquid discharge after the procedure- the fluid may be blood tinged or clear
  • Tenderness in the breast- due to the increased hormonal levels in your body during the procedure.

However, if you experience any of the following during your stimulation injections or after the procedure is completed, please contact your doctor immediately;

  • Severe pain in the pelvic area
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Heavy bleeding from vagina
  • If you see blood in the urine
  • High grade fever, more than 101 degrees Celsius

Most critical emergency situation during this procedure is Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. Though rare, it can have some serious effects on the patient and hence should be looked out for. Read on Hyper stimulation syndrome on our website, to understand this better.

Along with this, the fertility medications that the patient is given during IVF procedure also have some side effects. These include;

  • Mood swings
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Headaches
  • Bloating in the abdomen
  • Hot flashes


  • Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome: As mentioned above this is the most common risk of IVF, it presents with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. These symptoms present due to swelling of the ovaries which results from ovarian stimulation injections given to the patient for inducing ovulation.
  • Multiple pregnancies: In IVF usually more than one good quality embryos are transferred in the uterus, therefore the risk of multiple pregnancies increases. Compared to single pregnancy, multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of low birth weight of fetus and premature labor.
  • Complications of Trans Vaginal Ovum Pick Up: A needle is used to aspirate the eggs vaginally in order to collect them, this can cause damage to the bowel, bladder or blood vessels as well as bleeding and infection in the pelvis.
  • Risks associated with General Anesthesia: Trans vaginal ovum pick up is always done under general anesthesia, which carries its own risks.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Women who undergo IVF have a 2 to 5 percent chance of having ectopic pregnancy, which is a term used for pregnancies in which the fetal implantation takes place outside the uterus, mostly in the fallopian tube.
  • Miscarriage: The chances of having a miscarriage after getting positive with IVF is the same as you would get in a naturally conceived pregnancy. Which is between 15 to 20 percent. However, the rate increases with maternal age.
  • Stress: The entire process of any infertility treatment is stressful; emotionally, financially as well as physically. Hence a couple should have support from their family, friends and doctors to cope up with these stresses.


By- Dr. Alvina Arslan Meer

ART Coordinator (MBBS) and Online Counselor

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