Mothers conceiving through in vitro fertilization: Siblings, setbacks, and embryo dilemmas after five years

C. A. McMahon, F. Gibson, J. Cohen, G. Leslie, C. Tennant, D. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background: For many infertile couples, the birth of their first child by in vitro fertilization (IVF) is only the beginning of a complex unfolding story. This paper reports preliminary findings from a prospective study of families who conceived by IVF and who were followed up since pregnancy. Methods: Seventy-five mothers were interviewed when their first child was 5 years old regarding their subsequent reproductive history and their decisions and dilemmas regarding their surplus frozen embryos. Results: Sixty percent of the families had had further children and more than half of these were naturally conceived (the majority being unplanned). A number of families, however, continued to experience repeated treatment failure, and several described a compulsion to keep trying because ″it had worked once.″ Adjustment was further complicated for many families by dilemmas about their frozen embryos. Parents currently have four options: using the embryos themselves, donating them to other couples, donating them for research, or opting to have them destroyed. However, 70% of couples in this study were still unable to reach a decision. Conclusions: Although these preliminary findings suggest that adjustment is positive and straightforward for approximately half the families, researchers and clinicians need to remain attuned to ongoing dilemmas confronting families who conceived through IVF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-135
Number of pages5
JournalReproductive Technologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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