Selective reduction is a procedure used to reduce the number of embryos in a multifetal pregnancy. This procedure is sometimes used when too many embryos implant in a pregnancy that is achieved with assisted reproductive technology. When too many embryos implant successfully the chance of carrying the pregnancy to term drops significantly.
Selective reduction is generally used for pregnancies with more than two fetuses. Preventing medical problems in the pregnancy or the loss of all the fetuses is the reason for the procedure. In some cases, fetuses that are considered to be at greater risk for defects are selected for reduction.
The procedure is done during the first trimester, prior to the twelfth week of pregnancy. If no abnormalities are present in any of the fetuses, the ones that are easiest to reach are selected for reduction. A chemical, usually potassium chloride, is injected into the selected fetuses.
Following the procedure, the fetuses are usually absorbed by the mother’s body. The procedure is not without risk. In some cases, one or all of the remaining fetuses will die as well. This happens in about five percent of cases. Preterm labor is another possible side effect of this procedure.
Some patients have issues with this procedure, usually for ethical or religious reasons. Selective reduction is a form of abortion. Pro life patients may object to this procedure for this reason. Even pro choice patients may have problems with selective reduction. A couple who has gone down the long, painful road of infertility may not be able to bear the thought of aborting some of their babies.
There are some things you can do to avoid the need for selective reduction. You can find a pro life infertility specialist. These doctors don’t use selective reduction and avoid implanting more embryos than could be carried to term. Discuss this possibility with your doctor if you are a pro life infertility patient. The best way to avoid the need for this procedure is to avoid becoming pregnant with too many babies in the first place.