You might feel some bloating and fullness in your lower abdomen, which are normal reactions to the injectable medications. Other side effects include bruising and soreness at the injection site, allergic reaction, gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, or mood changes. If you experience any reactions, please make sure to discuss these with your doctor.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
Some individuals develop a large number of follicles and very high hormone levels in response to their fertility medications. This over-response to medication is called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). If the response is severe, fluid (water) can build up in the abdomen and lungs, and blood clots can occur. Severe OHSS occurs in 1% to 3% of those undergoing IVF. The fluid may need to be removed with a needle, and hospital admission may be required.
Another rare side effect of ovarian stimulation is ovarian torsion, where the ovary twists. This may require emergency surgery. If there is a risk of OHSS, the embryo transfer will be delayed and the embryos will be frozen to allow your body to recover fro the stimulation.
Risks of the egg retrieval procedure include discomfort during the procedure, bleeding, infection, or injury to the surrounding bowel/bladder/blood vessels. Infections are rare but may require antibiotics or surgery. Sedation is another risk, as some people can become too sedated and have breathing or heart rate complications.
In some situations, your IVF cycle might need to be cancelled before the egg retrieval. If this happens, we will book an appointment with your primary doctor and a portion of your fees will be refunded depending on the treatments that have already occurred.
The goal of IVF is to have one healthy baby. However, there is a risk of multiple pregnancies with IVF. Multiple pregnancies are a risk whenever more than one embryo is transferred. Risks with multiple pregnancies include miscarriage, premature birth, or long-term health issues such as cerebral palsy. Risks to the person carrying the pregnancy include high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding, and delivery problems. You may require bed rest or time off work earlier than planned. Please see our Multiple Pregnancy Fact Sheet for more information.
Miscarriages occur in about 15% to 30% of IVF pregnancies. Unless you are doing genetic testing on your embryos, the risk of early pregnancy loss (aka miscarriage) with IVF is the same as the risk with conceiving naturally. This risk is strongly related to the age of the person whose eggs are being used. Ectopic pregnancies (where the embryo implants in the Fallopian tube) occur in about 2% of IVF pregnancies. There are higher risks of high blood pressure, premature birth, caesarean birth, and low birth weight babies with IVF as compared to spontaneous pregnancies. All pregnancies have a small risk for birth defects. The general risk for all pregnancies is approximately 3% – 5%. The risk of birth defects including cerebral palsy appear to be higher in those with infertility, even if they conceive without fertility treatment.