According to studies, over 5 million children worldwide have been born via in-vitro fertilization (IVF). These numbers have been calculated since 1978, when the first IVF baby was born. Despite such huge success of this assistive reproductive technology (ART), misconceptions surrounding IVF are still prevalent.
How often do you hear phrases like, “But, are IVF babies born normal?” “Is it a safe procedure?” and similar connotations often hold no truth of fact to the claims.
This article will explore these myths and misconceptions and bust them with the correct facts.
In this Article
- 1 Myth 1 – IVF is Only Availed by Infertility Couples
- 2 Myth 2 – Babies born Through IVF are Weak
- 3 Myth 3 – IVF Always Leads to Twins or Multiple Babies
- 4 Myth 4 – IVF is Successful at any Age
- 5 Myth 5 – IVF requires Hospitalization
- 6 Myth 6 – IVF Enhances Cancer Risks
- 7 Myth 7 – IVF Treatment Leads to Cesarean Deliveries Only
- 8 Myth 8 – IVF has a 100% Success Rate
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 FAQs
Myth 1 – IVF is Only Availed by Infertility Couples
Fact – One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding IVF is that it’s only viable for treating infertility. Well, that’s far from the truth because the procedure is availed by women who want to get pregnant without a partner, same-sex couples, and even a couple with genetic disorders that they don’t want to pass down to their children.
The use of IVF is diverse and helps more than just infertile couples. During the IVF procedure, the fertilized embryo is often put under a procedure called pre-implantation genetic testing, wherein the most viable and healthy embryo is tested and then transferred into the body of the intended mother.
Myth 2 – Babies born Through IVF are Weak
Fact – Fetal growth and development are a very subjective journey and have nothing to do with the actual IVF procedure. In fact, babies born via IVF undergo a lot of testing and monitoring before they are implanted into the mother’s uterus.
Complications in the baby after birth could be a result of the poor health of the gestational mother throughout the pregnancy. It could be due to other external factors beyond the scope of management of the standard IVF procedure.
In short, a baby born through IVF is no different than a baby that’s naturally conceived via traditional sexual intercourse and egg fertilization. Any signs of weakness or congenital disabilities in the baby could directly imply other influencing factors throughout the pregnancy.
Myth 3 – IVF Always Leads to Twins or Multiple Babies
Fact – We can’t deny that IVF often imposes risks of multiple pregnancies. However, it’s not a standard case with every IVF conception, as many often perceive it to be.
The chances of conceiving twins via IVF are 25%, which is significantly higher than a normal conception. However, it isn’t the case with the remaining 75%.
So, undergoing IVF doesn’t always lead to multiple babies in a pregnancy, but there is a substantial risk of that happening compared to natural conception.
Myth 4 – IVF is Successful at any Age
Fact – A woman’s reproductive health is age-restrictive. The ovarian reserve depletes with age, and the reproductive functions’ efficiency also reduces with age. An IVF might enhance the chances of pregnancy, but it doesn’t always guarantee success if the intended mother is considered to be of the “geriatric” age.
Age directly affects the uterine functions, and the strength and weakness might prevent successful implantation and also subsequent pregnancy from the procedure.
However, the “lack of success” isn’t an IVF issue since the same could also happen with natural conception. So, in case you aren’t able to get pregnant even on IVF, we’d recommend discussing the problems with the doctor in detail. They can affirm a diagnosis and then offer the required treatment to overcome the challenges.
Myth 5 – IVF requires Hospitalization
Fact – An IVF procedure might require you to visit the hospital for the tests, diagnosis, and further assessment, but you don’t need to be hospitalized.
Generally, the procedure starts with an open and transparent consultation with the fertility specialist. Following that, a series of prescribed testing is done to find out the cause of infertility and assess what would be the next line of treatment.
If IVF seems the most favorable choice out of the available options, further discussions on the same are underway. You’d be put on fertility drugs, following which there is a waiting period when you have to focus on your physical and mental health.
Once the timing is right, and the female patient is actively ovulating, the egg retrieval process is done. This is when you might have to visit the hospital or a clinic to get the procedure done by a professional.
The egg and sperm are then fertilized, and the healthy embryo is transferred into the intended mother’s womb for implantation. None of these steps requires any form of hospitalization. The entire procedure is spread across a few weeks, but it’s spaced out, and there is no requirement to be admitted to the hospital for any of it.
Myth 6 – IVF Enhances Cancer Risks
Fact – If there’s one myth surrounding IVF that should be put in the foreground, it has to be this one. No scientific research to this date has found any correlation between IVF and cancer risks.
In fact, most cancer patients undergo fertility preservation techniques like cryopreservation of the gametes, etc., to later conceive a biological child once they are in remission. The same is done via IVF as well.
The most common reason behind the fear of cancer is due to the fertility drugs that are prescribed during the start of the IVF treatment. However, no studies show any negative implications of these fertility drugs on the life of the female patient undergoing the IVF procedure.
Not just the parents involved, IVF also doesn’t increase any cancer risks in the newborn, which is another common myth that people have regarding the procedure.
Myth 7 – IVF Treatment Leads to Cesarean Deliveries Only
Fact – As we said before, the IVF treatment and the pregnancy term are separate entities. What happens during the pregnancy isn’t always directly correlated to the IVF procedure unless there were any issues with the embryo or the implantation process.
Like with natural conception, the chances of a Cesarean birth are entirely on the baby’s positioning in the birth canal and the physical health of the mother.
If there are complications with a natural delivery and the doctor deems it harmful or risky, they will switch to a Cesarean birth to ensure that both the mother and the baby are safe.
It isn’t an “IVF thing.” A cesarean delivery depends on the situations leading up to the baby’s birth.
Myth 8 – IVF has a 100% Success Rate
Fact – It is true that with the advancements in medical technology, the success rate of IVF has subsequently improved over the years. However, even with that, IVF doesn’t have a 100% success rate. That’s far from the truth.
Your chances of a successful IVF procedure depend on multiple factors. It depends on the physical health, the quality of the gametes, and successful fertilization, followed by successful implantation.
Following the IVF procedure, the pregnancy term is closely monitored to rule out any possible risks.
The success of an IVF treatment also depends on the fertility specialist and the embryologist you are working with. If they aren’t experienced, or the clinic doesn’t have the required equipment and infrastructure, it can lead to risks of failure.
To maintain optimal transparency, your fertility specialist should give you constant updates about the chances of success during the procedure itself.
With the exponential growth that assisted reproductive technologies are seeing in the present world, it is crucial to overcome the stigma surrounding it. It is also time we push aside the misconceptions and switch them with facts. Instead of believing things as they are presented, we’d recommend you do your research. Educate and inform yourself about the topics and draw conclusions based on that.
Is IVF harmful or beneficial?
The predominant benefit of an IVF procedure is being able to conceive a child successfully. Like most medical procedures, even IVF comes with certain red flags and consequences, which should be discussed with the specialist before treatment.
Can IVF damage your body?
Repeated IVF procedures can take a toll on the physical health of the female patient since they are often put under fertility drugs, repeated injections, etc. One of the most common IVF complications is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, damaging the body’s natural ovulation process.
Do IVF babies look like their parents?
An IVF baby will resemble the genetic composition of their parents if they are born from the fertilized embryo of their parents’ gametes. If there are donor sperm cells or eggs involved, then there are chances that the baby might not resemble both of its parents.