Your Guide to Multiple Conceptions in the IVF Process

By Dao Lang posted 10 June 2021 12:22


Women choosing to undergo fertility treatment have the risk of multiple conceptions. Some women may like the idea of having more than one baby at once but it may not be good for their health or for the babies. 

Why are the odds higher with IVF?

During the IVF process, the specialist prepares several embryos to implant in the uterus. This is to maximize the chances of pregnancy as not all of the embryos will take. Many embryos have chromosomal abnormalities, which means they aren’t viable. However, there is a chance that more than one embryo will take. In days gone by, it was difficult to assess the quality of embryos which is why specialists chose to transfer more than one. 

When looking across all age groups, the odds of having multiple conceptions through IVG appear to be about 30 percent, with a large majority being twins. However, the odds will depend on factors such as the age of the patient and the number of embryos transferred. Egg quality declines as women age and the proportion of abnormal embryos generally increases. 

Many state-of-the-art fertility clinics are relying on advances in technology to diminish the odds of multiple conceptions. The reason for this is to reduce the risks associated with having multiple babies in one pregnancy. Choosing the right sperm bank can be challenging and IVF Authority makes this easier by discussing the top sperm banks in the U.S. and what to expect from them. 

What are the risks?

The risks that come with giving birth to more than one baby are higher than giving birth to one. They include lower birth weight and pre-term delivery. Half of all twins and most triplets are born prematurely. 

Babies born prematurely don’t have strong lungs yet and often battle to breathe on their own. Underweight babies may get sick and even die. Multiple babies may share certain blood vessels through a common placenta and develop heart problems. Multiples are more likely to have nerve and brain development issues if they’re born early. 

Moms pregnant with more than one baby are likely to experience problems during the pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, anemia or diabetes. They may need to stay in bed for weeks before delivery, especially if premature labor is likely. When giving birth, there’s more likelihood of having difficulties in labor and undergoing a Cesarean section. 

Selective reduction

For women who have three or more embryos implanted inside the uterus, a specialist may suggest undergoing a procedure called selective reduction. This allows the reduction of the number of fetuses down to one or two. Usually, this procedure is done early on in the pregnancy. Choosing to do this procedure is difficult and couples usually need counseling. 

Single embryo transfer

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) strongly recommends single embryo transfer in a good prognosis patient. Not all fertility clinics follow this guideline and some patients do not want only one embryo transfer regardless of recommendations. For many couples, the IVF process is a very emotional one and so emotions may drive decision-making. 

Specialists are now able to analyze the quality of the embryo and genetic material in more detail before transfer by using tests like comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS). 

This means they are able to transfer single embryos and maintain their success rates while reducing the chance of multiples to less than one percent. The tests they do are quite safe and performing them causes the minimal risk to the embryo. There is also a technique whereby embryos are allowed to mature slightly before transfer which seems to offer more success.