Understanding In Vitro Fertilization Risks

As with any other medical procedure, IVF has risks. These risks are uncommon but should be mentioned.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

This condition is a result of the stimulation of the ovaries with fertility drugs. Following retrieval of the eggs, the ovaries may become swollen and painful. Typical symptoms of mild to moderate OHSS include bloating and nausea which may last a week.  Pregnancy may aggravate the symptoms and their duration.  Severe OHSS may be associated with abdominal pain, vomiting, decreased urine output, shortness of breath and rapid weight gain due to water retention.  The physicians at the Center for Fertility & Gynecology, Los Angeles have extensive experience in the prevention and management of this condition.


The risk of miscarriages after IVF appear to be similar to that of women who conceive naturally.  In fact, the risks may be lowered by performing Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis/Screening (PGD/PGS).

Multiple Births

The risk of multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) is directly related to the number of embryos transferred to your uterus.  We recommend that only one or two embryos be transferred to avoid multiple births and the higher risk of early labor and low birth weight.

Ectopic Pregnancy

In a small percentage of IVF procedures (1-3%) the fertilized egg may implant outside of the uterus usually in the fallopian tube.  In such cases the pregnancy needs to be terminated with the use of drugs or surgery to avoid complications.

Surgical Risks

Retrieval of the eggs from the ovaries is performed with a needle under anesthesia. Complications are rare and include bleeding, infection and damage to organs.

Birth Defects

There is controversy whether IVF specifically increases the risk of having a baby with birth defects.  In general, the age of the mother is the primary risk factor for birth defects. Performance of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis/Screening (PGD/PGS) may help in reducing certain chromosomal/genetic abnormalities.

Please contact us with regards to scheduling a consultation with one of our Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologists.