Mediaplanet: How can we reduce multiple pregnancies with fertility treatments?

Cliff Librach: Fertility treatments often increase the risk of multiple pregnancies because the medications used to undergo these treatments often cause more than one egg to release in a cycle. There are several strategies that fertility specialists use to reduce this risk. One strategy is to minimize the dose of medications given to avoid too many eggs being released. When IVF is utilized to help women conceive, increasingly a singular embryo is transferred rather than multiples. However, the downside, is that this strategy may reduce the success of treatment in the short term. In order to improve success, and shorten the time to conceive, many clinics are now using newer technologies such as a time-lapse incubation system and/or pre-implantation genetic screening for abnormalities Medical Director, CReATe Fertility Centre.

MP: Does stress cause infertility?

CL: Our reproductive system is controlled through complex interactions of the brain with the ovaries and testes. Each of these organs releases reproductive hormones into the blood stream. When working properly, the reproductive system allows women to produce eggs each month and men to produce sperm. When our bodies are exposed to extreme stresses, mental or physical, stress hormones are also released into the blood stream. These stress hormones can significantly affect our reproductive system, by turning it off or inhibiting it. Reduction of stress through many different modalities may improve our reproductive function, as well as increase the success of fertility treatments when they are required.

MP: What are complications associated with a multiple pregnancy?

CL: Multiple pregnancy is associated with increased risks to the mother and her babies, compared to carrying a single fetus. For the mother, there is an increased risk of such complications as: high blood pressure, diabetes, increased blood loss at birth, and a higher chance of caesarean section. For the babies, there is more risk of such complications as: premature birth with low birth weight and lung problems. Despite this, it is important to reassure those women who are carrying a twin pregnancy, that, with modern obstetrical care, the great majority of twin pregnancies do result in the birth of two healthy babies.