Debunking the Myth: Is IVF Really Painful?
If you’ve been considering in-vitro fertilization (IVF), you may have heard some whispers or read some articles suggesting that IVF could trigger early menopause. Given that IVF is a procedure which involves the harvesting of multiple eggs at once, this concern might seem plausible.
After all, our body has a finite supply of eggs, right? Well, before you jump to any conclusions, it’s crucial to understand the complete picture. This blog post will unpack the connection, if any, between IVF and early menopause.
We will also shed light on the various misconceptions and facts associated with this topic. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Ovarian Reserve
The journey of an egg begins when a female fetus is around 20 weeks old. At this stage, the ovaries contain approximately 7 million immature eggs, or oocytes. However, this number reduces drastically by the time a girl reaches puberty – from 7 million to around 400,000.
Surprisingly, out of these 400,000 eggs, only about 400 will reach maturity and ovulate during the woman’s reproductive years. The rest of the eggs will naturally degenerate, a process called atresia. Let’s delve a bit deeper to understand why this happens.
The Process of Ovulation
Contrary to popular belief, more than one egg prepares for ovulation each month. During a natural menstrual cycle, multiple eggs (approximately 15-20) start developing, each enclosed within its own follicle.
However, usually only one follicle becomes dominant and releases an egg for potential fertilization. The rest of the eggs, although they had started the process, do not mature and are naturally lost through atresia.
IVF and Ovulation
So, how does IVF fit into this picture? In an IVF cycle, fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one dominant follicle. This way, instead of losing the non-dominant eggs, they are encouraged to mature along with the dominant one.
When the time is right, these eggs are retrieved for the IVF procedure, this procedure is called Ovum Pick Up Procedure. Essentially, IVF uses the eggs that would have otherwise been lost.
It does not deplete the stock of immature eggs waiting for their turn in future cycles.
The Myth about IVF and Early Menopause – Busted!
There exists a common fallacy linking IVF to early menopause. This false notion seems to spring from a misinterpretation of the process of natural egg loss. Early menopause refers to a state where the ovaries exhaust their supply of functional eggs ahead of the average age of menopause.
Contrary to this misconception, the procedure of IVF doesn’t consume the future eggs. Instead, it employs those which were destined to be naturally lost in the ongoing cycle. Hence, IVF does not expedite egg loss or induce premature menopause.
To understand this better, let’s break down the myths and realities:
- Myth: IVF uses up eggs that would have otherwise been available for future cycles, leading to early menopause.
- Reality: IVF only uses eggs that were set to mature and be released (or naturally lost) in the current cycle. It does not deplete the reserve of immature eggs intended for future cycles.
- Myth: The process of multiple egg retrieval in IVF reduces the total number of eggs in the ovaries.
- Reality: While multiple eggs are indeed retrieved during an IVF cycle, these are eggs that were already maturing for potential release in the same cycle. The pool of immature eggs remaining in the ovaries for future cycles is not affected.
Natural Egg Development: Each month, several eggs embark on the journey of maturation, but usually, only one reaches the final stage. The others, despite initiating the process, fail to mature fully and are consequently lost. This is a natural phenomenon and is not influenced by external factors.
Role of IVF: IVF does not waste but conserves. The procedure uses medications to stimulate the growth and maturation of these “doomed” eggs, which are then harvested for the treatment. IVF thus doesn’t decrease but instead optimizes the utilization of eggs in each cycle.
IVF and Menopause: Given the above points, it is evident that IVF does not exhaust your total number of eggs prematurely. Consequently, it cannot be a cause for early menopause. IVF and early menopause are separate entities with no direct correlation. It’s critical to dispel this misconception for a clearer understanding of the IVF process and its effects.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
Being an complex fertility procedure, it as important to understand the process, possible risks and complications and tips for Success before going for the procedure.
Consult Our Experts
We understand how emotional and stressful the journey to parenthood can be, especially when it involves fertility treatments. It’s easy to be swept away by hearsay or misconceptions. However, it’s crucial to be armed with accurate and reliable information.
If you’re still left with questions or need further clarification on this topic, please don’t hesitate to consult our team of experts in Pune. They are here to guide you, providing scientifically-backed answers and emotional support.
Remember, each journey is unique, and knowing the facts is the first step towards making the best decisions for your fertility journey. You’re not alone in this. We are here to help.
Dr. Supriya Puranik
Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist
Often known as the last glimmer of hope for people who have lost all hope for conceiving a child, Dr. Supriya Puranik is a leading gynaecologist, high risk obstetrician and Head of IVF & Gynaecology department at Ankura Hospital for Women & Children.