Consequences of Superovulation and ART Procedures

Rachel Weinerman, M.D.; Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D.


Semin Reprod Med. 2012;30(02):77-83. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Superovulation procedures and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have provided the means for significant improvement in infertility care. Although generally safe, these procedures are associated with complications that, albeit rare, can have significant morbidity. Complications from superovulation include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, thromboembolism, and adnexal torsion. Complications from oocyte retrieval include infection, bleeding, bowel injury, and anesthetic complications. Early pregnancy complications from in vitro fertilization include multiple gestations, ectopic pregnancy, and heterotopic pregnancy. Stimulation, retrieval, and transfer techniques can be modified to minimize these risks and prevent complications. Further research in the field is needed to continue to improve the safety of superovulation and ART.


Assisted reproduction technologies (ART) have enabled significant advances in the field of infertility, and several hundred thousand infants per year are born as the result of superovulation and in vitro fertilization (IVF).[1] There are, however, complications of these procedures, some of which can lead to significant morbidity and even mortality. Consequences of superovulation include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), thromboembolism, and adnexal torsion. Complications of oocyte retrieval include bleeding, infection, bowel injuries, and anesthetic complications. Pregnancy complications from IVF include multiple gestations and ectopic or heterotopic pregnancies. Other long-term complications occur, including perinatal complications, long-term outcomes in children born from IVF, and long-terms risks of cancer from superovulation; however, these topics are covered in other articles in this volume. Understanding these potential complications can help clinicians modify their practice to better predict and prevent these serious consequences.


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