In vitro fertilization can be a blessing for couples trying to have children. But doctors say it can pose health risks for both mother and child. Linda Hale felt it was a risk worth taking more than a dozen times.
At 26 years old, the South Florida mom says she tried for months to get pregnant but couldn't. She says her gynecologist thought she might be having trouble getting pregnant because she was anxious.
Months later, testing revealed it wasn't anxiety, but infertility. And so began years of in vitro fertilization treatments.
"We went through three cycles of in vitro, one right after the next and after three cycles we didn't even get implantation," Hale says. "In vitro nine is when I had a pregnancy. I was carrying triplets, but only carried one and was able to have one beautiful child."
She had her first child Sara. Then it was time to try again. After four more failed attempts, Hale conceived her second daughter, Eva. That means she had 14 cycles of in vitro, but she wasn't done yet.
"[I] decided to do in vitro one last time and we had child number three and four so we did in vitro 15 times," she says.
Not far from her mind now is whether those 13 years of multiple procedures put her health at risk.
"I probably took 50 cycles of Clomid over the years so God knows what is down the road," Hale says.
Dr. Kenneth Gelman, a reproductive specialist, says one study did associate Clomid with a slightly higher risk of ovarian cancer. he says some women may also have problems with a class of fertility drugs called Gonadotropins.
"There's a syndrome called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome where the ovaries can get very large and exude a lot of fluid into the woman's pelvis," says Gelman.
Aside from the potential health risks, there's also the cost. A round of in vitro fertilization averages $12,000, and it's typically not covered by insurance.
"There are families out there that can't afford it so that is the downside," says Hale.
She is thankful she could afford it and is grateful that medical science could give her the gift of motherhood.
Hale says she is also grateful her children are all healthy. Babies born through in vitro have a slightly higher risk of birth defects and genetic disorders.