I started a discussion last week about twins mostly because I’m fascinated with the rising rates of multiples (which has jumped 70% since 1980, mostly due to fertility treatments) and to bring up the major decision couples who go through IVF have to decide. How many embryos do we transfer?
To those who don’t have to make that decision, the answer might be easy. “Just transfer one, that way there’s no risk of multiples and the pregnancy isn’t as high risk.” But if you think about it from the infertile couple’s perspective, the decision isn’t so clear cut. Not only are they spending a lot of money on the procedure, they’re emotionally involved and so desperate to have a child they’ll go to whatever lengths to make that happen.
I was interested in reading about this exact subject and decision in the article, Taming the Twin Trend From Fertility Treatments from Jennifer Lunden of NPR. I like how Sharon Bernstein, a woman who struggled with infertility and now has twins through IVF, explained her thoughts. “I was so focused on just getting that positive pregnancy test. I really couldn’t think past that event. But as soon as I was pregnant it was like, ‘Now what?’ The risks and the downfalls of a twin pregnancy? No, that was completely a blindside.”
I think any couple who deals with infertility can relate. You’re so focused on the end goal that it’s hard to really weigh the risks that you might choose to take. You just want a baby, dangit! Because doctors are aware of this mentality and the increased risk and cost of multiples, they’re now urging couples to only transfer one embryo. And I was surprised to hear that the success rate is nearly the same. Dr. Robert Stillman explains why:
“Ten years ago, we would hedge the bet. The likelihood of any one embryo implanting and bringing about pregnancy was low enough that you could put two or three or four, and most of the time you didn’t get multiple pregnancies. But now, as the pregnancy rates per embryo have so increased, now you have to put far fewer.”
Ultimately the decision is for you and your spouse to decide with assistance from your doctor. I just wanted to share this information since I know it was helpful for me to educate myself more fully. I doubt the decision is easy for anyone to make and hope that those of you considering IVF right now will find comfort as you make the difficult choice.
For more information, please read the article Taming the Twin Trend From Fertility Treatments.
image: Heather Holinka