IVF refers to In Vitro Fertilization. It is a process in which fertilisation of the ovum and the sperm occurs outside the body of the female. By stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, an ovum is obtained. This ovum is fused with a sperm in a laboratory. After two to three days, the fertilised egg is transferred into the female’s body. Sometimes, in cases like surrogacy, where the mother’s uterus is unfit to carry the baby, the fertilised egg is transferred to a different female’s body. The process of IVF is boon for couple dealing with infertility issues. It is a type of assisted reproductive technology.
The probability of multiple births in case IVF is much higher in comparison to natural pregnancy. According to statistics (2013), forty percent of all IVF procedures resulted in multiple births whereas in case of natural pregnancy, the percentage was only two. The percentage of the former is much alarming when compared to the latter. The main reason behind this is the practice of implanting more than one embryos in the body of a female. More than one embryos are planted with the hope of achieving higher chances of successful pregnancy. Sometimes, more than one embryo survives, resulting in multiple pregnancies.
WHY SHOULD MULTIPLE PREGNANCY IN IVF BE AVOIDED?
• Mother’s life is at potential risk because of carrying more than one baby. Complications might arise.
• Chances of miscarriage are much higher.
• Risk to the lives of babies.
• Chromosomal defects in the babies born.
• Premature delivery resulting in underweight and underdeveloped babies.
• The mother might develop further medical complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia, breathing problems, backache, etc, followed by the higher risk of heavy bleeding during childbirth.
• Additional concerns like having to raise more than one baby when parents aren’t mentally or financially prepared.
HOW CAN MULTIPLE PREGNANCY BE AVOIDED IN CASE OF IVF?
There is little that can be done to avoid multiple foetuses in a natural pregnancy. But in the case of IVF, you can. Here’s how!
Ovarian follicles are stimulated before the process of IVF begins. The stimulation of the ovaries leads to the release of eggs, which are later retrieved from the body of the female to continue with the procedure. If the follicles are over stimulated, multiple eggs might be released. This, in turn, will result in multiple fertilizations. If the ovarian follicles are monitored properly, only one egg will be released, thus leading to a single pregnancy.
Choosing the Right Embryo
After the initial step, the fertilised eggs are allowed to grow in the laboratory for a few days before being transferred to the mother’s womb. The best embryo should be chosen for transfer. The more developed the embryos are, the easier it will be for the team to choose the right one for transfer. The number of embryos to be transferred to the womb should be decided by the couple, after having a prolonged discussion with the doctor, regarding its pros and cons.