According to CDC, over 1 million babies were born from 1987 to 2015 through IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI (Intrauterine insemination) or surrogacy. Researchers also estimate that 1 in 8 couples will experience some form of infertility in the approaching years, so it’s more common than you might think. For instance, if either of the partners suffers from cystic fibrosis, they would use an ART-based method to conceive a baby. Therefore, it’s essential to know the advantages and disadvantages of assisted reproductive technology beforehand. They can avoid unusual and unwanted circumstances and may become parents shortly.
Advantages of Assisted Reproductive Technology
There are several advantages of assistive reproductive technology for people with infertility, and they come in different forms. As a parent-to-be, you can opt for any method suitable for your health or preferences.
1. Potential Treatment for Infertility
It may be difficult or impossible for some couples to become pregnant without assistance, especially because women tend to have fewer children later in life than they did decades ago. Infertility can affect both men and women regardless of age, but the risks increase as parents approach 40. Fertility treatments can lead to healthy pregnancies with a low risk for complications like prematurity and birth defects. Therefore, this is an option to consider if you cannot conceive later in life.
2. Increased Chances of Pregnancy
Assisted reproductive technology increases the chances of pregnancy. This means that patients who are trying to conceive may be able to do so faster with the help of assisted reproductive technology than they would through natural conception alone.
3. Multiple Births
Some women are infertile because they don’t ovulate every month. By stimulating the ovaries with medications or hormones, doctors can induce multiple egg releases during an IVF cycle, increasing both chances of pregnancy and conception of more than one baby at once.
4. The Ability to Select Embryos
The gender of a patient’s child can be determined at the time of fertilization which is one of the notable merits of assisted reproductive technology. This also allows parents concerned about passing on hereditary diseases or other conditions in their family tree to find out if they will affect future generations.
5. Donation Eggs or Sperm are Reusable
There are times when a fertility specialist may advocate the use of donated eggs or sperm. In these situations, the clinic can manually fertilize the egg and produce a viable embryo for IVF. This increases your chances of getting pregnant the first or second time around.
6. ART is Low-Risk
Artificial insemination has no side effects, unlike IVF, where fertility drugs are given to stimulate ovaries. Other procedures of assisted reproductive technology have little risk since they’re performed under the supervision of a trained doctor.
Disadvantages of Assisted Reproductive Therapy
While assisted reproductive technology helped many couples conceive, there are also some drawbacks to the treatments. Some potential risks and potential cons of assisted reproductive technology are as follows.
1. Premature Birth
The transfer of a high number of embryos increases the risk that some will implant in the uterus before their appropriate time. This typically results in preterm birth or miscarriage. In most cases, the chance of preterm birth is lower than the risk associated with pregnancy at an older age. However, it often depends on other factors like multiple births and maternal history of preeclampsia or diabetes.
2. Disruption of Family Relationships
In some cases, ART can disrupt family relationships and open up issues that might not have transpired otherwise. There are several reasons why ART can cause this to happen. Dysfunction in family relationships is often related to the cost. It also comes down to the donor eggs/sperm use and lack of physical connection with a child conceived through IVF or surrogacy. Besides potentially being embarrassing to talk about, the topic also clashes with certain religious concepts. Some family members may strongly oppose or disapprove of the involvement of science.
Assisted reproduction procedures are costly. Parents must pay surrogates, sperm donors, or egg donors before the expenses related to IVF medications and intrauterine insemination (UI) enter the picture. A single treatment cycle can cost $15,000 to $20,000. Most insurance companies do not cover infertility treatments unless there is a medical reason behind it. You are covered in cases of tubal damage due to an STD (sexually transmitted diseases) like chlamydia or successfully treated pelvic inflammatory disease that left scarring.
4. It’s emotionally difficult to go through
Fertility treatments can take a toll on couples’ emotional health as they deal with infertility’s physical and financial side effects. Such disadvantages include depression from hormone medications or the inability to conceive naturally. In some cases, this strain causes divorces, leading to child custody battles over embryos that were frozen for future use in IVF procedures.
5. It Can Cause Health Problems
Doctors can induce ovulation through the use of powerful medication. This may result in Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) that causes severe abdominal cramping and bloating, vomiting or nausea throughout the cycle. Additionally, it’s common for patients who have had multiple IVF cycles over the years to develop endometriosis.
Endometriosis is caused by the scarring on uterine tissue from surgical procedures like dilation and curettage (D&C), leaving the patient with chronic pain symptoms after treatment ends. Therefore, it’s important to discuss how many embryos will be transferred at once during an IVF procedure and how they are monitored before implantation.
6. Embodied Nature of Pregnancy is Lost
A reduction in the number of embryos, which tend to be perceived as people in many cultures, means there’s a loss of the intrinsic nature of pregnancy. For example, the natural process of pregnancy and consequent physical connection are lost during the IVF procedure.
7. Success isn’t Guaranteed
One of the few rare disadvantages of assisted reproductive technology is that it doesn’t guarantee success. A woman may also respond poorly to treatment or not at all. Finally, doctors can try to predict but can’t ensure procedures won’t cause health problems.