How to avoid ectopic pregnancy with IVF

A normal pregnancy requires a fertilized egg, or embryo, to attach to the lining of the uterus. However, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants elsewhere and starts growing. How do avoid ectopic pregnancy with IVF will be discuss in this article.

What is an ectopic pregnancy and IVF ?

An ectopic pregnancy is a complication that occurs when the embryo grows outside the uterus cavity. Because a fertilized egg cannot survive outside of the uterus, an ectopic pregnancy is sadly non-viable and will not result in a successful pregnancy or delivery. If you or your partner experience this risk, immediate medical attention is required to avoid the life-threatening symptoms. 

Our physicians can expertly diagnose and treat ectopic pregnancy with medication or a laparoscopic procedure.

How to avoid ectopic pregnancy with IVF
Ectopic pregnancy with IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF), is the most common and effective type of assisted reproductive technology to help people become pregnant. IVF can help achieve pregnancy when other treatments have not worked.

What’s the IVF process?

The first step in IVF is taking fertility medications for several months to help your ovaries produce several eggs that are mature and ready for fertilization. This is called ovulation induction. You may get regular ultrasounds or blood tests to measure your hormone levels and keep track of your egg production.

Once your ovaries have produced enough mature eggs, your doctor removes the eggs from your body (this is called egg retrieval). Egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure that’s done at your doctor’s office or at a fertility clinic.

You’ll get medicine to help you be relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. Using an ultrasound to see inside your body, the doctor puts a thin, hollow tube through your vagina and into the ovary and follicles that hold your eggs. The needle is connected to a suction device that gently pulls the eggs out of each follicle.

In a lab, your eggs are mixed with sperm cells from your partner or a donor — this is called insemination. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens. For sperm that have lower motility (don’t swim as well), they may be injected directly into the eggs to promote fertilization. As the cells in the fertilized eggs divide and become embryos, people who work at the lab monitor the progress.

About 3-5 days after the egg retrieval, 1 or more embryos are put into your uterus (this is called embryo transfer).  The doctor slides a thin tube through your cervix into your uterus, and inserts the embryo directly into your uterus through the tube.

Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos attach to the lining of your uterus.  Embryo transfer is done at your doctor’s office or at a fertility clinic, and it’s usually not painful.

Plan on resting for the rest of the day after your embryo transfer. You can go back to your normal activities the next day. You may also take pills or get daily shots of a hormone called progesterone for the first 8-10 weeks after the embryo transfer. The hormones make it easier for the embryo to survive in your uterus.

The causes of ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies can be caused by multiple factors. These are usually related to other preexisting conditions that cause complications, making an ectopic pregnancy more likely. Causes may be:

  • Abnormal growths or a birth defect that results in an abnormality in a fallopian tube’s shape.
  • Inflammation or infection in the fallopian tube that results in partial or full blockage. This is called a blocked fallopian tube.
  • Scar tissue from a previous surgery or infection of the fallopian tube that hinders the egg’s movement.
  • Pelvic or tubal surgery that has caused adhesions.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy usually occurs within the fallopian tube (known as a tubal pregnancy). However, ectopic pregnancies can also develop in other areas of the female reproductive system, including:

  • The ovaries
  • The abdominal cavity
  • The cervix 

Often, the first signs of an ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain or discomfort

As the egg continues to grow in the wrong location, symptoms will become more severe. If left untreated, the condition results in: 

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting 
  • Blood leaks from the fallopian tube, causing shoulder pain or an urge to have a bowel movement 
  • A ruptured fallopian tube

A ruptured fallopian tube causes heavy abdominal bleeding and must be addressed immediately to avoid life-threatening consequences.

Does IVF prevent ectopic pregnancy?

No, it is still possible that an embryo transferred into the uterus as part of IVF treatment can find its way into a fallopian tube and cause an ectopic pregnancy.

If the tubes are damaged (which may be the reason you are having IVF in the first place), then an embryo that finds its way into a tube is less likely to get carried back to the uterus naturally.

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