One of the main side effects of assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the possibility for multiple births. ART refers to any medication or procedure undergone for the purpose of causing a pregnancy. However, on the biggest side effects of ART are multiple births. It is not uncommon to have twins, triplets or even more children from a single pregnancy. Below are the reasons behind multiple births when using ART.
Multiple Births with Fertility Medication
Some fertility medications stimulate egg production and regulate menstrual cycles. Stimulating production and release of eggs can mean that ovaries will work on overdrive and possibly release more than the typical one egg a month. Multiple egg releasing can lead to multiple egg fertilizations and implantations. Typically, the use of these medications can lead to twins or triplets.
Multiple Births with Egg Donation
Egg donors donate multiple eggs during each retrieval procedure. While some of these eggs may be frozen for future use, more than one will be fertilized and implanted in the recipient. Because multiple eggs are inserted during the implantation procedure, more than one fertilized egg may attach to the uterine wall, causing a multiple birth.
Multiple Births and In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization is the procedure where the recipient’s egg and partner or donated sperm are joined outside the body and then implanted in the recipient. Implantation can be located either in the fallopian tubes or uterus, but in either procedure the physician will transfer multiple eggs to increase the possibility of success.
The Benefits of Multiple Births
For many couples, multiple births add extra joy to an already wonderful occasion. Couples that have tried to get pregnant for years might be ecstatic when they learn they are expecting multiple children. Moreover, the high cost of ART procedures and medications can oven hinder future pregnancies, making a successful ART procedure resulting in multiple births extra special.
The Drawbacks of Multiple Births
Multiple births, however, also have their drawbacks. Multiple pregnancies are often high-risk for both the mother and children. Hospital stays, medications and additional procedures may be required to keep everyone healthy and prevent miscarriage or early delivery. Additionally, multiple births are quite expensive and can prove to be a financial burden on the expectant parents.
Similarly, there is debate about those specialists and physicians who use higher amounts of fertilized eggs during implantation in ART procedures. While implanting 4 or 5 eggs could lead to twins or triplets, some physicians implant 10 or more eggs, with resulting pregnancies of 7 or 8 babies. Implanting such a high number of fertilized eggs presents several ethical and medical issues.
ART and Multiple Birth Conversations
Because of the high chance of an ART procedure resulting in a multiple birth, your physician should inform you about the risks of such a pregnancy. The probability and number of multiples you can expect will change depending on the procedure and medications you use. Make sure to ask your physician or specialist about the potential for multiple births and how many eggs will be implanted during the procedure.