Risk of Multiples

We’ve taken the following post from our archives. Three years later the message is still very relevant. The issue of multiple births as a result of fertility treatments is frequently in the news. Aside from the ethical issues raised by this event, important health-related concerns have highlighted a growing trend to perform elective single embryo transfers (SET).  More information about single embryo transfers can be found here.

Risk of Multiples

(First published July 11, 2013)

In 1997, I was working at another hospital.  I had just started working in a fertility practice after working for ten years in Labor and Delivery.  My husband joked that “I was helping put babies in, instead of helping to take them out”.  It was only a few weeks into my new position, when I was very excited to go in with a couple to have their first pregnancy ultrasound at 7 weeks gestation.  As I stood next to the woman and her husband we all saw the ultrasound screen and it showed four gestational sacs!  The couple was amazed.  I, however, needed to sit down!  Seeing those 4 little beating hearts was wonderful to them…. but brought intense fear to me.  Working in labor and delivery I knew firsthand the gauntlet this couple would have to pass through to safely deliver those babies without loss, medical problems and a challenging pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancy, twins and particularly triplets or higher are a significant problem in the world of infertility treatment.  The risks of preterm loss, premature birth, low birth weight and serious maternal complications during the pregnancy are increased during a multiple pregnancy.  After delivery, families have to cope with the dramatic changes that occur.  There can be long term hospitalization of premature infants, followed by special needs of premature infant care and possible ongoing medical problems when they come home.   There is also the added expense and financial stress of feeding, clothing and caring for multiples.  Some couples adapt to these challenges, some couples are left feeling overwhelmed, sad and depressed.

As you consider your options throughout your treatment it is crucial that you discuss your risk of multiples with each cycle with your physician.

This discussion will include factors like your type of treatment, your previous response to treatment, your age, as well as your own beliefs, goals, needs and circumstances.

We follow each treatment cycle, including Clomid, injectable cycles with IUI, and IVF on a case by case basis to balance the highest success rates and minimize your risk of multiples.  We offer Single Embryo Transfer (SET) to IVF patients whenever possible.

Because of these known risks, one of our major goals and commitments to you here at the Center is to help achieve your dream of a family and try to minimize your risk of a multiple pregnancy.

Deb R., RN

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