Despite increasing popularity and public attention, there are still plenty of myths floating around about In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and other fertility treatments. It’s important to clear up these myths as they can create unwanted tension amongst those who are considering these options to start their family. So, let’s have a look at a few of the most common myths.
Myth: You will have twins, triplets, or more!
Fact: It’s not completely true, but yes, fertility treatments do increase the risk of multiple pregnancies. However, the ratio is significantly higher in couples who conceive on their own. Triplets and quadruplets are a completely different story all together. Only 15% and 7% of pregnancies are conceived naturally.
In reality, the risk of multiple pregnancies during any fertility treatment is because of the medications for causing ovulation or in some cases increase ovulation. Only 5 to 7% of pregnancies conceived with the use of oral fertility drugs such as clomiphene citrate results in twins. Occurrence of triplets or quadruplets is extremely rare with oral fertility drugs. While injectable fertility drugs such as gonadotropins result in twins 15% of the time and more than twins in about 3% of cycles.
IVF procedures also increase the risk of multiple pregnancies. With IVF, the chances of having multiple pregnancies are dependent on the age of the woman. Younger women are more likely to have twins with IVF as compared to somewhat older women. To simplify, there’s a 25% chance of having twins when the age of the woman during IVF is under 35. The same risk decreases to 10% for women over the age of 42. The risk of triplets with IVF is very low as only one or two embryos undergo transfer during the process.
Yes, fertility treatments increase the risk of multiple pregnancies, but it is lower than that of spontaneous conception. The majority of couples will have a single baby! Multiple pregnancies have also decreased since many physicians are now recommending SET or eSET, where a single embryo is transferred.
Myth: In Vitro Fertilization always works in every circumstance. Everyone choosing IVF is has a baby successfully.
Fact: Though we would like every couple and individual struggling with infertility to achieve a successful pregnancy, unfortunately, there’s no treatment including In Vitro Fertilization, that will always work for everyone. The likelihood of an IVF cycle resulting in a pregnancy is dependent on a variety of factors; the most important being the age of the female patient.
Collective information from major clinics across the United States found that women under the age of 35 have a 40% chance of having a baby from their first IVF cycle and women between the ages of 35 and 37 have a 32% chance. The chances of success reduces to 22% for women 38 to 40 years old. That number further decreases in women over the age of 40.
Success rates are also impacted by the number of embryos transferred. The chances of a successful pregnancy are significantly increased with multiple embryos being transferred, but with that, the risk of multiple pregnancies also increases. Though not everyone who undergoes IVF treatment will have success, a high percentage do!
Myth: Fertility treatments are covered by every insurance company.
Fact: The truth is that many insurance companies do offer coverage for certain stages of IVF, IUI, and other fertility treatments. The coverage in an insurance policy varies from company to company. It is possible that some may only cover the cost of screening, examinations and initial testing required to determine infertility and its causes. While some may cover the treatments and medications as well.
The type of covered treatments also varies depending on the policy. Some policies may cover Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) when used with the medication to increase ovulation but may not cover anything for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It is also possible that some may cover both or nothing at all.
In addition to all this, 15 states require insurance companies to include infertility treatments in their policies, though what is covered also varies from state to state.
It is important to study your policy to determine up to what extent you may be covered. Many fertility clinics have financial counselors who can answer questions about your insurance benefits and what falls under its coverage.
Myth: IUI and IVF are the only options for infertility
Fact: The truth is that there are many options for couples experiencing infertility. The procedure tailors treatment protocol to each couple and are dependent on factors like age, BMI, results of testing, etc. Here are some examples of alternative treatment options:
- A woman may not be able to ovulate because of a problem with her thyroid gland. Treatment with a thyroid hormone can restore ovulation allowing for pregnancy.
- For men with decreased semen motility, IUI may be the best treatment option.
- Sometimes, if medication triggers ovulation, insemination may not be necessary at all.
- Surgery can be an option for women with blocked tubes.
- More aggressive treatment may be an option for a woman who is around 40 years of age or for couples who have been struggling with infertility for a long time.
These are only a few of the available treatment options. Individualization of treatment plans are necessary; if something worked for someone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you too.
Myth: Babies conceived through ART will have birth defects or developmental delays
Fact: Even though we hope that all the babies are born without defects, unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to a study, children conceived naturally have a 3 – 5% risk of birth defects and a 1 – 2 % likelihood of experiencing developmental delays.
IUI used with medications, does not appear to further increase the risk of birth defects or developmental delays. However, ovarian stimulation does have the potential for pregnancy related complications associated with multiple pregnancies.
Most studies have not found an increased risk of birth defects in babies born via IVF. Also, most babies are typically in the normal range in terms of birth weight.
If there is an increase in problems such as birth defects or developmental delays in babies through Assisted Reproductive Technology, it is very small. The majority of babies born as a result of fertility treatment are fine!
If you have additional questions regarding treatment options you can always reach out to Reproductive Sciences Medical Center, a fertility clinic in San Diego. Visit us at www.fertile.com or call us at 858-436-7186 to schedule a free consultation.