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Critics raise questions about the safety of fertility drugs

Couples in Louisiana who wish to become parents but have difficulty conceiving may turn to in vitro fertilization for help having a child. However, even though IVF and similar fertility treatments have resulted in the births of eight million babies in the last 40 years, the Washington Post reports that the industry may be taking advantage of people’s wish for a child by overprescribing the drugs associated with IVF and glossing over their potentially negative effects on a woman’s health.

Advocates for the industry claim that there are no known risks associated with taking the drugs and no negative health effects, but critics claim that the matter has not received sufficient study to make such broad claims. The United States is one of few developed nations that does not track fertility treatments’ health outcomes. 

Industry critics claim that IVF drugs may result in life-threatening complications. One acute and potentially fatal complication is a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. IVF requires the harvest of an unfertilized egg from a woman’s ovaries, and the drugs are supposed to stimulate egg production. OHSS causes the ovaries to produce too many eggs all at the same time. Women affected experience pain, must often seek emergency medical treatment and, to add insult to injury, only a few of the eggs produced may be viable. Emergency room data demonstrate that approximately 1,000 women per year present to emergency rooms with OHSS, despite the assurances of fertility doctors that the condition is almost unheard of. There is also concern that fertility drugs may cause or contribute to other serious conditions such as cancer or heart attacks

Currently, studies into the possible negative health effects of fertility drugs are inconclusive, but what remains clear is that there is at least some risk of complications from taking fertility drugs. Women who believe that such pharmaceuticals have caused them harm may wish to consult an attorney.


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