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IVF And Ovarian Cancer?

By Expert HERWriter
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Ovarian Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure that many women go through when attempting to become pregnant. The cost and stress can be astronomical, however the rewards outweigh everything when a healthy pregnancy leads to a healthy baby.

In vitro fertilization requires certain medications and hormones to hyperstimulate the ovaries in order to produce enough follicles. Unfortunately, researchers found that women who go through this hyperstimulation have a higher risk for borderline ovarian tumors.

What does this mean? To quote, “the long-term risk for overall ovarian malignancies was twice as high in women who received ovarian stimulation by IVF as in subfertile women who did not receive IVF.”

The good news is that they did not find an increase in invasive ovarian cancers, but borderline cancerous tumors were increased and it didn’t seem to matter how many times a woman went through an IVF cycle. Lucky on the first try or lucky on the fifth try had the same risks.

A few reasons for this have been reported. First, the multiple ovulations out of the ovary causes damage to the surrounding cells. Second, egg harvesting causes direct cellular damage. Third, the woman is usually taking or injecting various medications and hormones that may increase the risk.

What are common symptoms of ovarian cancer? Typically it includes chronic pelvic or abdominal pain, bloating that does not resolve, feeling full quickly after eating, and bladder symptoms such as urgency or frequency.

Of course, other conditions may cause these as well, such as ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, ulcers, heartburn, diverticulitis, bladder infection and more. Therefore it is very important you discuss your fertility with your health care provider if undergoing in vitro fertilization. If you have already undergone IVF and are now having abdominal-type symptoms, get a work-up.


1. Increase in Borderline Ovarian Cancer After IVF. Web. 27 October, 2011.

2. Predictive Value of Symptoms for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer. Web. 27 October, 2011.

Reviewed October 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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