In vitro fertilization (IVF) are a combination and a series of procedures used to help a woman get pregnant. It's one of the most commonly used assisted reproductive technology (ART) to treat infertility and some genetic issues in women. 

Myths exist in every culture and country and they came about during a time when science, philosophy, and technology were not very precise. In the world of health and medicine, myths originate as a result of trial and error remedies and you are likely to fall prey to them if you do not understand the facts. Believing in myths when it comes to your health can cause adverse or unforeseen reactions if there is no scientific backing to those myths.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of myths surrounding IVF that we are unaware of. Let’s understand the myths and the facts about them. Before that, we should understand the basics of infertility and IVF. 

Understanding Infertility and IVF

Sexual intercourse is an activity typically involving the insertion and thrusting of the penis (primary male genital) into the vagina (primary female genital) for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. Sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy only when a male sperm (primary male gamete) fertilizes a female egg (primary female gamete) produced in the ovaries. Ovaries are the female reproductive organ that releases eggs for fertilization. 

When a woman is unable to get pregnant after trying (having unprotected sex) for a year, it is known as infertility. Infertility can affect both men and women and the most common causes include genetics, sexual disorders, stress, improper diet and nutrition, etc. There are 3 main types of fertility treatment: medicines, surgical procedures, and assisted conception – including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a technique in which a human egg is fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. During IVF, eggs are removed from the ovaries of a woman and fertilized in a laboratory with sperm provided by her partner or a donor. There are many variations to the IVF procedure and chances of success are higher for women younger than 35 years old. 

5 Common Myths About IVF That You Should Not Believe

Since IVF is a common fertility treatment and is highly effective, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions that often float around. 

It is important to know the right facts and be aware to not fall prey to misconceptions. 

Myth 1: IVF is painful.

Fact: Initially, you have to take some injections under the skin, just like insulin. These will cause a little discomfort but are not painful.

The egg collection, called ovum pick up, is done, by passing a fine needle through your vagina (an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that receives the penis during sexual intercourse) and inside the ovaries, under anesthesia by a specialist doctor. Anesthesia is the use of medicines to prevent pain during surgery and other procedures. So, there is no question of pain. 

In the final step, the embryo transfer is done usually without anesthesia. It may cause a little discomfort but is not painful. An embryo transfer is the last part of the IVF process. Embryo transfer refers to a step in the process of assisted reproduction in which embryos (the early stage of development of a baby-to-be) are placed into the uterus of a female with the intent to establish a pregnancy.

Myth 2: IVF is NOT safe.

Fact: IVF is a very safe procedure for most women. The hormonal injections can sometimes cause temporary symptoms like vomiting, bloating, and mild cramps. In very few cases, these hormones can cause excessive stimulation of the ovaries (OHSS- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) that, in severe cases can affect your lungs, heart, kidney, liver, etc. However, in almost all cases, proper monitoring can detect OHSS at the earliest and can be treated timely.

The egg collection can rarely cause bleeding, infection, organ injury, or anesthesia-related complications. There are no long-term adverse effects of IVF and it is generally a safe method. Talk to your gynaecologist to understand more if you are not sure.

Myth 3: IVF Pregnancy means complete bed rest and a lot of restrictions.

Fact: Scientifically and medically, enough bed rest will not increase the chance of pregnancy or reduce the risk of miscarriage (an event that results in the loss of a fetus (baby-to-be) before 20 weeks of pregnancy). 

Bed rest will only make you feel physically better. Studies show that women should relax and take it easy after an IVF embryo transfer but complete bed rest is not necessary. Consult your gynaecologist on how many hours or days of rest are required and what other precautions are to be observed.

Myth 4: The babies will not be normal after IVF treatment.

Fact: In every pregnancy, there is a small risk of abnormalities of the baby. 

The reasons are varied-genetic problems, side-effects of certain medicines, environmental pollution, or infections. The risk is similar in an IVF pregnancy as well. IVF will definitely not increase the risk of abnormalities of a baby. A number of studies have indicated that couples with infertility, whether conceiving (to become pregnant) on their own or through other non-IVF treatment, have the same increased risk of birth defects as those undergoing IVF treatment.

Myth 5: IVF treatment cannot be successful after the first attempt. 

Globally, the average IVF success rate is around 40-50% in young women, after the first cycle. This means out of 100 women undergoing IVF, 40-50 will conceive after one cycle of IVF. The chances are higher in women younger than 35 years of age. Understand that, no medical procedure has a 100% success rate and there will be associated complications, of varying degrees.

Usually, the success rate depends on the cause of infertility, the age, and the duration of infertility. 

IVF is successful treatment and is opted by many couples. It has given a ray of hope and happiness to many couples or women across the globe. It is always advisable to consult your gynaecologist for any doubts and queries you might have regarding IVF.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.