What do I need to know about pregnancies obtained using assisted reproduction techniques?

Published: 16 March 2017|Last updated: 30 November 2020|

In many cases, couples turn to Assisted Reproduction treatment because of a problem or pathology of one of the members of the couple that results in sterility or infertility, which is why it is a psychologically demanding process and difficult to assimilate.

With this mentality, patients tend to associate a problem of sterility with a complicated or risky pregnancy, but in most cases, these factors are unrelated.

Thus, it is important to remember the difference between sterility and infertility. The first concept refers to the inability to achieve conception, i.e. the difficulty of getting pregnant. In infertility, on the other hand, the woman achieves pregnancy, but she cannot carry the baby to term and it ends in a miscarriage.

Sterility can be treated with assisted reproduction techniques and if pregnancy is finally achieved, it will generally be normal and without problems. Only in cases of infertility will the pregnancy be high risk and it will have to be controlled in order to carry it to term successfully.

There are no differences in the process of development of the embryo once the transfer has been carried out, nor later in the development of the baby. The pregnancy develops in the same way as a natural pregnancy.

The start date of the pregnancy is calculated by subtracting 14 days from the date of insemination, follicular punction or the date of the punction of the donor in the case of oocyte (egg) recipients.

The weeks of development of the embryo correspond to those of a natural pregnancy.

When you are pregnant, you often have symptoms which are new or uncomfortable, like, for example feeling sick or experiencing indigestion. In general, these are passing discomforts and there’s no cause for alarm.

However, some symptoms can indicate a more important problem and, in this case it is best to go to your doctor or hospital immediately. For example: severe pain at the beginning of a pregnancy.

The risk of miscarriage is the same (15-20%) as with a natural pregnancy and increases according to the age of the patients undergoing IVF or insemination. For patients receiving an oocyte donation, the risks do not increase as the donation comes from a donor aged between 18 and 35.

Over 40, a pregnant woman, whether by natural means or by Assisted Reproduction Techniques, has a higher risk of developing pregnancy hypertension, gestational diabetes, among others. Therefore, these pregnancies must be carefully monitored.

It has been scientifically demonstrated that children born from Assisted Reproduction Techniques do not have a higher risk of genetic alterations or deformities than those children born from a natural pregnancy.

A pregnancy resulting from Assisted Reproduction Techniques does not exclude the need for all the usual tests for diagnosing anomalies in the foetus. Initially, amniocentesis will only be carried out when the result of the triple test (triple screening) produces altered values. The triple-test consists of a blood test (biochemical screening) and an ultrasound which includes measuring the nuchal translucency of the foetus.

Care must be taken with women pregnant with twins because the blood analysis is not reliable and, in this case, only the ultrasound will help the gynaecologist to establish the risk.

In the case of recipients, the triple test should be carried out using the age of the donor (and not that of the recipient) and therefore, the need for an amniocentesis test will be low.

You must always follow your gynaecologist’s advice of and refer to the law in your country. The triple test and the amniocentesis test are not usually compulsory.

“Will my pregnancy be like other women’s?” This is a typical and natural question for a woman who has undergone assisted reproduction treatment. And the answer is clear: a natural pregnancy or one achieved through fertility treatment is equal in terms of the developing embryo, the mother’s symptoms and the developing baby.“

However, in older women, regardless of whether they use these treatments or not, they will need to have a more regular check-up on their pregnancy to make sure everything is going well and that they can carry the baby to term without complications.

In short, a pregnancy achieved through assisted reproduction treatment does not differ from a natural pregnancy in terms of outcome, but it is indeed different at the outset.

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