Having a family may seem like the most important thing in your life, but if getting pregnant does not happen easily you may be considering fertility treatments. What are the risks of using fertility drugs? Any medical intervention has a risk versus benefit trade off that must be considered. Knowing the facts is very important before you rush into something that may have long term consequences.
There are studies that seem to show that fertility drugs do not increase your risk of cancer, and there are studies that say they do. There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of possible consequences to manipulating a womanâ€™s hormone levels. Anything that changes hormone levels could increase the risk of hormone related cancers, such as breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
Most studies look at women who have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here are some examples of information collected about these women. A Dutch study found that IVF patients were twice as likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to women who did not use IVF. But the cancer rates found were relatively low, from five to seven in a thousand women. A large Danish study found an increased risk of both ovarian and breast cancer. An Australian study found a slightly increased risk of breast cancer in women who started IVF at an early age, 24 or younger. A Norwegian study showed an increased risk of breast cancer.
Some believe that the risk of ovarian cancer appears to return to normal if the treatment results in a successful full term pregnancy. But the risk may be increased if no pregnancy occurs. Most women who attempt IVF do not have success, with the best results being 32% for women under 35. Fertility statistics can be misleading, as it is rarely clear if the success rates given are for pregnancy or a live birth. So the rates may be even lower.
Another common type of fertility treatment is the use of Clomid. This drug stimulates the ovaries to produce more eggs. Research shows that the extended use of Clomid is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer among women who used it for 12 cycles or more. Gonadotrophins are also used, and are associated with increased risk of cancers for women who did not have a successful pregnancy.
Hereâ€™s another disturbing piece of information. French scientists say that children born to women who used ovarian stimulating fertility drugs are more likely to develop leukemia; more than twice as likely.
Taking the available research into account, doctors are currently recommending that infertility treatment is safe. You should consider your own personal situation. You may have risk factors that make treatment with fertility drugs a bad idea for you. It is up to you what risks you are willing to take. Discuss this with your partner and your doctor, and gather the facts to be able to make an informed decision.
It is critically important that you educate yourself widely and deeply about your own gynecological health and what you can do to get pregnant naturally. The medical profession offers very limited information to help you in this way. It is up to you to understand if there is room for improvement in your individual situation. There are many lifestyle changes that you have control over that can make a big difference. These include good nutrition, limiting exposure to toxins and keeping stress levels to a minimum.