United Kingdom: concerns surrounding increased complications in IVF

Publié le 28 Nov, 2016

Last year in the United Kingdom, an increasing number of women suffered serious complications following In-Vitro Fertilisation according to the HFEA[1]. Doctors are concerned by the increase in cases of severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can be potentially fatal.


In 2015, 60 women were admitted to hospital with this type of syndrome – an increase of 40% compared to the previous year [2]. Symptoms include abdominal swelling and pain, nausea, dehydration and the formation of blood clots.


This increase could be explained by the administration of “more potent” medication by some doctors keen to “harvest more eggs” during ovarian stimulation. This trend could be related to “recent ‘improvements’ in the technology used to freeze embryos and eggs”: current facilities for freezing eggs allow doctors to delay the transfer of embryos “until the ovaries have recovered”. In theory, this time-scale should limit cases of hyperstimulation, which may be aggravated by pregnancy. However, it encourages clinicians to obtain as many eggs as possible in one procedure and therefore to administer stronger doses of hormones.


The number of IVF cycles, which is also increasing (68,000 in 2014, 72,000 in 2015), could even partly explain the increase in the number of “unfavourable incidents”.


[1] Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.


[2] HFEA figures highlight 60 cases in 2015, 42 cases in 2014 and 46 in 2013

The Guardian, Hannah Devlin (13/11/2016)

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