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Risks and complications of IVF treatment

Contrasts the incidence of the various forms of ectopic pregnancy in patients having undergone IVF treatment, and those who conceived naturally.


How common is ectopic pregnancy ?

Vaginal ultrasound scan showing tubal pregnancy.

In the United Kingdom, approximately 12,000 ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed each year (BJOG,2011). The reported incidence of ectopic pregnancy after IVF treatment varies between 2-11% of all pregnancies. This is much higher than is reported after natural conception, which is about 1 in 100 to 300 pregnancies. After one ectopic pregnancy, the risk of recurrence is between 10-20%.

In addition there is heterotopic pregnancy (a combined normal pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy). The incidence of heterotopic pregnancy after IVF is about 1% of all pregnancies compared with 2 in 30,000 after natural conception.

Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy include: damaged Fallopian tubes, female sterilisation, previous myomectomy, previous ectopic pregnancy, previous cesarean section, age (risk increases with advancing age), previous pelvic surgery, prior sexually transmitted disease, Chlamydia, endometriosis, smoking (one third of ectopic pregnancyes are associated with ectopic pregnancy, this is a dose effect relationship) and difficult embryo transfer.

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