MICHELLE A. MULLEN, JUDITH LORBER, AND LINDA S. WILLIAMS
Various risks or negative effects are known to be associated with different aspects of in vitro fertilization (IVF); still others have been hypothesized but are unproven. These risks may be physical, psychosocial, economic, legal, or ethical and pose various burdens for different "players"-- women and men seeking treatment, care providers, and children born as a result of IVF.
IVF tests and interventions focus almost exclusively on the female body even when infertility results from a male factor, so women carry the greater proportion of burden and risks. There are physical risks to women in addition to the numerous side effects related to the use of drugs with IVF and related procedures. Ovum retrieval may result in bleeding and infection, and when general anesthesia is used, another serious risk is involved: Early pregnancy wastage (spontaneous abortion) is high in IVF patients.
In terms of psychological effects, many women report experiences of depression, futility, and loss of control, and research indicates that women experience greater depression and anxiety than do their partners when treatments fail. Also, when multiple gestations result from IVF,