The use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) for treating the infertile couple is increasing in the United States. The purpose of this paper is to review the short-term outcomes after ART. Pregnancy rates after ART have shown nearly continuous improvement in the years since its inception. A number of factors affect the pregnancy rate, with the most important being a woman’s age. Certain clinical diagnoses are associated with a poorer outcome from ART, including the presence of hydrosalpinges, uterine leiomyomata that distort the endometrial cavity, and decreased ovarian reserve. Multiple gestations are the major complication after ART. New laboratory techniques, including extended embryo culture, may allow the transfer of fewer embryos to maintain pregnancy rates while reducing the risk of multiple gestations. Although much of the morbidity in children born after ART is the result of multiples, recent analysis suggests that even singletons are at higher risk for perinatal morbidity, including preterm delivery and small for gestational age infants. In vitro fertilization may be associated with a slight increased risk for birth defects. The major short-term complication of ART in women is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This syndrome is difficult to predict, but new treatments are being developed that may limit its frequency. Because of its high pregnancy rate, couples are moving to ART more quickly in the management of their infertility. All outcomes of ART, including pregnancy rates and adverse complications, need to be compared with standard non-ART therapy when deciding the appropriate course of treatment for a given couple.
As assisted reproductive technology pregnancy rates improve, efforts are being directed to understanding and preventing adverse outcomes, including multiple birth and other obstetric complications.
From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
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Corresponding author: Brad Van Voorhis, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242-1080; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.