In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Side Effects and Risks

In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly known as IVF.

Updated: October 13, 2017

In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly known as IVF. IVF is the procedure of treatment by retrieving eggs, taking a sperm sample, and after that fertilizing an egg and sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg or embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus.

When the IVF treatment is required?

IVF can be done to treat infertility problems like

  • Damaged or Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Low sperm count or sperm motility
  • Ovulation Problems, premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids
  • Incase you have removed your fallopian tubes for some reasons
  • Genetic disorder
  • Unexplained infertility

How IVF is done?

IVF precedure is done in five basic steps including

Step 1: Patients has to undergone fertility medications as prescribed by the doctor to stimulate the egg production. Multiple eggs has to be produced to retrive it from the ovary. Multiple eggs need to be retrived as some eggs will not get fertilized after retrieval. A transvaginal ultrasound is done to check the size of the eggs in the ovaries. Hormone levels are also checked by doing blood tests.


Step 2: After eggs reached to a certain size they are retrieved by a hollow needle. It is a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound to check the pelvic cavity while retriving the eggs. There will little discomfort after the egg retrival procedure which can be reduced by taking medication prescribed by the doctor.


Step 3: Doctor asked the male partner to provide the sample of sperm, which is used for fertilising the eggs in the laborotary.


Step 4: The sperm and eggs are combined together and stored in a laboratory dish to encourage fertilization.  Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used if there are less chances of fertilization. A single sperm is injected directly into the egg to make the fertilization in this procedure. Then the embroyogist monitored the eggs to confirm that fertilization and cell division has happened. Then the doctor will tell you that how many embryos or fertilized eggs has been formed.


Step 5: After the egg retrieval and fertilization, the embryos are transferred into the woman's uterus. It is generally happens after three to five days of the egg retrieval. In this procedure, a catheter or small tube is inserted into the uterus to transfer the embryos. This procedure is not painful for most women but some women may experience mild cramping. Implantation typically takes place around six to ten days after the egg retrieval.

Side effects of IVF:

Some of the side effects include:

  • Little or no blood passes after the procedure while urinating.
  • Mild cramping
  • Mild bloating
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness

If you face any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever

Few side effects  after taking fertility medications may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)

Risk Factors in IVF:


  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased urinary frequency
  • Shortness of breath
  • Faintness
  • Severe stomach pains and bloating
  • weight gain


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