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What are the risks of gonadotropin treatment?


During IVF treatment medications are given to stimulate the reproductive systems. As a result, women are exposed to high levels of estrogen, which the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences lists as a known carcinogen. But based on current research, scientists say there’s little cause for concern.

• Conceiving multiples is the most common complication of gonadotropin treatment. Of these pregnancies, two-thirds are twins and one-third are triplets.

• Though many couples consider this a blessing, carrying multiples increases risk of miscarriage and other complications.

• During stimulation for natural conception or IUI if three or more follicles are growing to maturity or if blood estrogen exceeds a certain point patients are asked to stop the injections in order to prevent a condition called hyper stimulation.

• Women who take a gonadotropin occasionally develop ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS happens when a woman produces too many eggs after taking the drug. The ovaries rapidly swell and fluid accumulates in the abdomen, or around the heart or lungs. About 10 to 20 percent of gonadotropin cycles result in a mild form of OHSS, which can cause sudden weight gain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, but usually goes away on its own. In 1 to 2 percent of gonadotropin cycles, OHSS is severe enough to require hospitalization and can lead to blood clots, kidney problems, or very rarely, death.

• Women may notice breast tenderness, rash or swelling at the injection site, bloated abdomen, or mood swings during fertility treatment.

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