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In Vitro Fertilization

How IVF can help

For a woman or couple trying to become pregnant, dealing with infertility can be more than frustrating -- it can be devastating. While the adoption of a child can be endlessly rewarding, for some hopeful parents-to-be, the choice that feels most right for them is to try and have a child that is biologically as well as emotionally a part of them, and to explore options that might aid them in that desire.

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, can provide the path to success for those who are having difficulty conceiving naturally. In vitro means "outside the body." IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology in which the joining of egg and sperm is completed in a laboratory dish. After eggs (the recipient's own or a donor's) have been removed from the ovaries and successfully fertilized, the embryos are then placed in the woman's womb in the hope that one of them implants itself and results in a normal full-term pregnancy.

IVF Success Rate

Many women or couples who have not been able to conceive naturally have started a family through IVF. In vitro fertilization statistics place the chance that IVF will result in a live birth at anywhere from 13 to 43 percent -- the older the woman trying to become pregnant is, the lower the chance of success.

IVF Risks

While IVF is the answer for many people, with an upper-end success rate of less than 50 percent, the biggest risk associated with the procedure remains clear: failure to conceive. Because of the considerable time and expense a woman or couple must commit to IVF, and because the process is far from a guarantee of pregnancy and can therefore come with an intense and very difficult emotional roller coaster, anyone considering IVF should do a lot of research and discuss the decision at length with their healthcare provider.

Other risks associated with in vitro fertilization include complications arising from the use of drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. There has also been some evidence that the maternal mortality rate may be slightly higher in IVF pregnancies than among the general population, although this variance may be influenced by the fact that there are proportionately more older women conceiving through IVF versus natural means, and therefore more higher-risk pregnancies with IVF.

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