Options and risks
Fertility treatment in our clinics gives results that exceed natural pregnancy rates. But there are the same basic risks with artificial fertilisation as there are with a naturally-conceived pregnancy.
Pregnancy outside the womb (an ectopic pregnancy): The fertilised eggs (embryos) may implant outside the womb. Even when the fertilised egg is placed inside the womb, an ectopic pregnancy may occur. Thanks to regular investigations during fertility treatment, an ectopic pregnancy will be detected and treated early.
Miscarriage: 10–15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. With in vitro fertilisation (IVF), this risk is about 15–30%. The reason for this is because of the higher average age of the patients.
In vitro fertilisation involves hormone stimulation, where growth of the follicle is stimulated. In addition, we sometimes transfer two fertilised eggs at a time. This method increases your chances of becoming pregnant, but it can also cause side effects:
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): Hormone stimulation can trigger an overproduction of eggs in the ovaries, whereby a number of processes occur in the body that can lead to a build-up of fluid in the abdomen or other places leading to abdominal pain. If you come for your scheduled appointments while you are having treatment, the risk of OHSS is no more than 2%.
Multiple pregnancy: As two eggs are sometimes transferred during IVF, this increases the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy. In about 5% of cases where two eggs are transferred, this results in the birth of twins.
What are the risks to the baby during fertility treatment?
There is a 2–7% risk of birth defects in a naturally-conceived pregnancy. Experience shows that an IVF pregnancy has the same risk as a naturally-conceived pregnancy. Research shows that artificial fertilisation with ICSI involves an increased risk of transferring genetic defects to the child. In 3–5% of men with a serious fertility disorder, this condition has a genetic cause, so that a child born following ICSI may also have a fertility disorder. A small number (1–2%) of infertile men are also carriers of the gene for cystic fibrosis, so a child born following ICSI may also be a carrier of this gene. We recommend genetic counselling and possibly carrier screening prior to fertility treatment if there is very poor-quality sperm, etc. We look at your individual situation and give you in-depth advice about diagnostic and treatment options.