In the UK, one in six couples have difficulty conceiving. IVF (in vitro fertilisation) is often a couple's or individual's only chance at conception. An IVF procedure joins a man's sperm and woman's egg in a laboratory. If fertilisation occurs, one or more fertilised eggs (embryos) are surgically placed inside the woman's uterus. Ideally, a pregnancy occurs. IVF has both pros and cons and is not a procedure to be taken lightly. IVF comes with a distinct set of emotional characteristics and is mentally, physically and financially draining to all parties.
Pros of IVF
The most obvious pro of IVF is conceiving a healthy baby -- or babies, as 25 per cent of successful IVF pregnancies results in multiple births. For couples who have tried all other fertility treatments, IVF is often the only viable option to conceive. The majority of couples will conceive within three IVF cycles, so the prospect of having a healthy child far outweighs any cons for many couples.
IVF is a very expensive procedure, especially because not every health authority has the budget to allow couples in their area to have the treatment on the NHS. Couples who are willing to pay will have costs of more than £1,000 per treatment to meet even if they are treated in an NHS hospital. Most clinics and hospitals do not offer any money back if an IVF cycle does not result in a birth.
People going through IVF experience many emotional ups and downs. This is normal, as the process is physically hard on the body and emotional because the outcome of each IVF cycle is so uncertain. Emotional strain on the woman is often compounded by IVF medications, which often cause side effects like depression and stress. Emotional strain coupled with the financial burden of IVF often causes conflict in marriages and partnerships.
Physical side effects
Besides depression and anxiety, medications administered during an IVF cycle can cause hot flushes, cramping, headaches and vision disturbances. The medications given to stimulate ovaries and produce more eggs occasionally cause ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. Most cases are mild and don't require any treatment, but severe cases can be dangerous.