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Should You Worry About That First Six-Week Ultrasound?

Question:

Hello Dr. Ramirez,

I’m writing to you from Ontario in Canada. After conceiving via IVF, my wife and I are scheduled for a 7 week ultrasound.

At first we were looking forward to this, but after reading around on the internet, we want to cancel this until later when an abdominal ultrasound would work.

Although the medical community believes these ultrasounds to be safe, it isn’t proven and should be done only when medically necessary.  Especially the internal ones as there is some belief that the heat from ultrasound may harm the growing baby.  We’re just reading too many stories about people who had an ultrasound, heard the heartbeat and miscarried later that day or when they went to a follow up ultrasound, they found the baby stopped developing within a few days of the initial ultrasound.  There is also research being done as to whether there is a link between increasing rates of autism and increasing use of ultrasounds during pregnancy.

We’ve asked our clinic and they said the 7 week one has to be internal and it is required (although we can’t be forced to submit to an ultrasound).  We’re aware of the risks and that there may be no baby, but we’d find that out at a later point anyway and not worry about the effect of the ultrasound.

Do you have any concerns about early internal ultrasounds?  T. from Canada

Answer:

Hello T. from Canada,

I think you are being a little overly paranoid.  Transvaginal (internal) ultrasound has been around for over 30 years and has NEVER been the cause of any pregnancy abnormalities or risks.  It is perfectly SAFE.  In my practice, I do the first ultrasound at 6 weeks to rule out an ectopic (tubal pregnancy) because all infertility patients, including IVF patients, are at increased risk.  I then do a second ultrasound a 8+ weeks to confirm a viable pregnancy.  At that point the woman is ready to begin her prenatal care.

I know that this is a very precious pregnancy, and I urge all Obstetricians to treat the patient as such with extreme care, however, don’t be overly worried about the pregnancy, otherwise, it will not be an enjoyable experience.  Remember, it is 10 months long. That is a very long time to be stressed and worried! Also, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Your physician is the best credible source for information on what is or is not safe for your wife during her pregnancy.

Good Luck,

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D.  F.A.C.O.G.

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