IVF and the risks of multiple pregnancy

Fertility treatments have led to an increase in births of multiples. But there are increased risks associated with multiple pregnancy.

The aim of any fertility treatment is the birth of a healthy baby with minimum risk to the mother.

To achieve this, clinics are being encouraged by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to opt for single embryo transfers whenever possible.

This is because there are more risks associated with multiple pregnancies for both the mother and babies. One in every 12 twin pregnancies results in at least one baby dying or having a significant disability, and twin pregnancy increases the risk of most pregnancy-related health problems for the mother. Single embryo transfer will reduce your risk.

The benefits of single embryo transfer

It is often thought that putting back a single embryo will reduce your chances of success. However, replacing two embryos does not double your chances of getting pregnant, but it does increase your chance of a multiple pregnancy and all the additional risks this brings.

Therefore, if you're under the age of 37, have not had any unsuccessful IVF cycles and have good-quality embryos, your clinic may suggest you opt for a single embryo transfer to give you the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

To ensure you're given the best chance of success, the embryologist will assess the quality of your embryos before the transfer. The best-quality embryo will be replaced and any further good-quality embryos may be frozen and stored for future use.

Page last reviewed: 11/07/2014

Next review due: 11/07/2016

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