It’s been more than 45 years since the world’s first IVF baby was born in England. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the IVF procedure, when this infant, Louise Brown, came into the world. There were debates around the ethics and worries that the child or the mother would suffer some kind of lasting health effect. In the last 45 years, IVF has become a preferred choice for couples struggling with fertility issues. There is some research done on the long-term effects of IVF. Fertility drugs are always part of IVF treatment, which is given to boost hormones. long-term effects of IVF can vary from person to person and may depend on various factors, including the specific IVF protocol used, the underlying fertility issues, medications given, and individual health.
Here are some potential long-term effects of IVF:
- Multiple Births: IVF is associated with a higher risk of multiple pregnancies, such as twins, triplets, or more. Multiple pregnancies can be associated with higher health risks for both the mother and the babies, both in the short and long term.
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): Some women who undergo IVF may develop OHSS, a condition characterized by swollen and painful ovaries. While this is usually a short-term complication, in severe cases, it can lead to long-term health issues.
- Psychological and Emotional Impact: The emotional and psychological effects of IVF can be long-lasting. Many couples experience stress, anxiety, and depression during the IVF process and may continue to face emotional challenges even after successful pregnancies.
- Future Fertility: IVF may affect a woman’s future fertility, particularly if she undergoes multiple cycles or experiences complications. It’s essential to discuss the long-term fertility implications with a healthcare provider.
- Birth Defects: Some studies have suggested a slightly increased risk of certain birth defects in babies conceived through IVF. IVF-conceived babies seem to be at a higher risk of lower birth weight, premature delivery, prenatal mobility, and hospital admission than naturally conceived babies. However, the absolute risk remains relatively low, and ongoing research is examining this issue.
- Gynaecological Health: Some research has suggested a possible association between IVF and an increased risk of gynecological conditions such as ovarian and endometrial cancers. However, the evidence is not conclusive, and more research is needed.
- Cardiovascular health: High levels of estrogen used to induce ovulation can lead to a slightly increased risk of blood clots immediately after fertility therapy. However, it is not clear whether that increased risk lasts beyond pregnancy or not. The hormones given to stimulate ovulation can also disrupt the lining of blood vessels. IVF is also linked to a higher likelihood of premature birth and pre-eclampsia (a multi-system disorder specific to pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and a significant amount of protein in the urine), both of which are associated with cardiovascular disease later in life. Research is being done to establish a clear link between IVF and heart disease. Even healthy kids born from IVF are likely to have a higher likelihood of higher blood pressure and fasting glucose levels compared with age- and gender-matched controls.
How Ayurveda can help?
Ayurveda as we know is a traditional system of medicine. Ayurveda does not only cure the sick but also restores the health. Ayurvedic treatment does not rely on chemical medicines, like some other fertility treatments. It’s a system of medicine that focuses on holistic health and strengthening the body and mind. Ayurveda can be successfully used in fertility treatment and even complemented with IVF to reduce the risks of the procedure. Let’s see how ayurveda is helpful:
- Ayurveda Balances Doshas: Ayurveda believes in the balance of three fundamental energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. IVF can be physically and emotionally taxing, potentially aggravating one’s doshas. An Ayurvedic practitioner can assess your dosha constitution and recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to maintain balance.
- Dietary Recommendations: Ayurveda places great importance on a balanced diet. Specific dietary guidelines may be given based on your constitution and current health status. Eating nourishing, warm, and easily digestible foods can be particularly helpful during the IVF process. A clean, organic, and unprocessed diet recommended by Ayurveda goes a long way in promoting the health of an individual. A specific diet to balance the doshas of an individual also helps in building good health.
- Herbal Remedies: Ayurvedic herbs are often used to support reproductive health. Herbs like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are known to promote fertility and reduce stress. There are herbs prescribed for cardiovascular health and immunity too. However, the use of herbs should be supervised by an Ayurvedic practitioner.
- Stress Management: IVF can be stressful. Ayurveda emphasizes stress management through practices like yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises). These techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can have a positive impact on fertility, disease prevention, and overall health.
- Detoxification (Panchakarma): Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic detoxification and cleansing therapy that can be beneficial before IVF to remove toxins from the body and improve reproductive health and heart health. It is a Sanskrit word that translates to “five actions” or “five treatments,” and it involves a series of therapeutic procedures designed to cleanse and balance the body, mind, and spirit.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Ayurveda encourages a healthy daily routine (Dinacharya) that aligns with your dosha constitution. This includes proper sleep, exercise, and routine activities to support physical and mental well-being.
Ayurveda treats the person as a whole, not just the symptoms. It focuses on overall health and well-being, which can positively impact the outcome of IVF and help in reducing the negative impacts of IVF by improving overall physical and mental health and immunity. Following Ayurveda principles can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Fertility treatment in Ayurveda is completely natural and does not use hormonal therapy, thus reducing the risk of health issues in the mother and baby. It can help mothers have healthier babies without compromising on their health. Even if fertility treatment of Ayurveda does not lead to conception, it will prepare the body for conception through assisted reproductive technology like IVF and also help in reducing its risks.