The Risks of Multiple Embryo Transfer to Your Health

The Risks of Multiple Embryo Transfer to Your Health The Risks of Multiple Embryo Transfer to Your Health

Do you dream of being pregnant? Desperate to be a mom, you may ask your fertility doctor to transfer multiple embryos during an in vitro fertilization procedure (IVF). It may sound perfect, but is this scenario always best? Multiple gestation, or becoming pregnant with multiples, increases health risks for you and your babies. Research the risks of becoming pregnant with multiples, and make an informed decision about your embryo transfer. Remember, your goal is to bring home a healthy baby. And a healthy baby needs a healthy mom.

Multiples can affect your physical health
Multiples in the womb have higher rates of premature birth and other health problems. Here are some of the situations that are more likely to occur for women pregnant with multiples than those pregnant with a single baby:

  • Bed rest
  • C-section
  • Discomforts during pregnancy, like fatigue, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting
  • Emotional stress
  • Gestational diabetes (multiples more than double the risk for this affliction)
  • Heart problems, including heart attacks
  • Incompetent cervix, which can lead to premature delivery or pregnancy loss
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Placenta previa and other problems of the placenta, increasing the risk of hemorrhage
  • Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)
  • Preterm labor

Many women with multiples give birth to twins and triplets without serious consequences, while others are less fortunate. Some moms of multiples may simply complain about increased discomforts, while others face critical outcomes. To reduce the risks that accompany pregnancy with multiples, many doctors are now recommending the transfer of fewer embryos than in years past. Now, a single embryo transfer is often an ideal choice, especially if you are under 35 or have a favorable prognosis.

Multiples can affect your emotional health
Ask any mom how she felt the first few months after birth. More than likely, she will not just discuss the love, joy and amazement of new motherhood; she may also reference crying fits, exhaustion and sleep deprivation! Here are some common challenges during the first few months postpartum:

  • Feelings of depression and isolation
  • Low self-esteem
  • Marital problems
  • Strained finances

If one or more of your infants has serious medical or developmental problems, these difficult emotions can escalate. Since health complications are more likely for multiples, you may need to be extra careful with your emotional health when pregnant with multiples. If you already have a history of emotional or mental health struggles, this will be especially important

Make an informed choice
Many parents of multiples bring home babies with few or no long-term health problems. And many parents of multiples survive emotionally unscathed. You may want to ask yourself, are you willing to take the risk? Consider your finances, your support system, and your physical and emotional health. Make an informed choice about the number of embryos to transfer during IVF, guided by your team of fertility specialists. Involve your partner in this decision and discuss all health risks with your fertility doctor to find the best solution for you.

This content is Copyright The American Fertility Association (AFA) 2011. This content is intended for personal use and may not be distributed or reproduced without AFA consent. Please contact or visit for more information.

Reviewed June 2011 by Dr. Lowell Ku from Dallas IVF.