Bioethics Blogs

IVF, Multiples, and Risk: Buyer Beware

Janet Farrell Leontiou reflects on her experience as an IVF patient who was misled into choosing several multiple embryo transfers.


A recent article in The Guardian summarizes new research showing that the chance of becoming pregnant following in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be reduced by as much as 27% when more than one embryo is transferred. The reduced pregnancy rate was observed when two embryos were transferred, but only one of these embryos was of good quality. When two embryos of good quality were transferred the pregnancy rate was the same as for single embryo transfer. These facts, which support single embryo transfer, are important given the risks associated with multiple births following multiple embryo transfer.

Several months prior to this article, I had read in a New York Times article on IVF and multiple births that “Consumers can easily be overwhelmed by the available data and be unable to distinguish between good medical practices and a sales pitch.” The statement was attributed to Dr. Mark Sauer, a fertility specialist. As an IVF patient, I was surprised to read this, but the next statement was like a punch to the stomach. The doctor continued: “We all consider twin pregnancy to be an undesirable outcome that can be completely avoided if doctors and patients agree that a single embryo transfer is the right thing to choose.”

I went to a major teaching hospital in New York City for fertility treatment. I assumed that I would be treated by accredited professionals in good standing, not by charlatans.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.