If you’re considering going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to grow your family, there are factors to keep in mind before you start the process. Knowing what to expect can be tremendously empowering and help you take control of your fertility journey. Here are 5 things to know about the IVF journey.
1. IVF is time-consuming
During the IVF process, you will have frequent doctor appointments, phone calls, and message exchanges with your fertility care team, as well as a calendar of medications to manage. With IVF, it can be difficult to schedule events in advance because you may have an appointment with your fertility doctor that comes up at the last minute or an injection you need to give yourself at a specific time.
Prior to starting IVF treatment, you may want to consider clearing your schedule as much as possible to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. Plan to not be traveling anywhere, but you will need to notify your team of any travel plans you may have.
2. You may not physically feel like yourself
As a part of your IVF cycle, you will take fertility medications that will help to stimulate your ovaries. As your follicles grow, you may experience some side effects of the hormones, including:
- Mild Nausea
- Mild Headache
In addition to side effects from the medications, your fertility specialist may recommend exercise restrictions and abstaining from sex at some point in your cycle. Fortunately, all side effects and restrictions are temporary.
3. IVF can be emotionally taxing
It is not uncommon to experience a range of emotions throughout the IVF journey, from anxious and depressed to hopeful and elated. In addition to the medications you are taking which can impact your mood, you may feel a sense of helplessness as you navigate a journey in which so much is outside of your control.
To help ease the stress of the IVF journey, set time aside to do things you enjoy that will not interfere with treatment, such as a movie night with friends or a relaxing massage. (Learn about: Self-Care Tips for Women Undergoing IVF)
4. IVF may not work the first time
Unfortunately, for some people, it may take more than one IVF cycle to get pregnant. And even with the highly scientific nature of IVF technology, it does not always work for everyone. While IVF can be successful, there are other options to consider if you are told your chances are low or if you have already done an IVF cycle without getting pregnant.
Donor eggs or sperm can help increase your odds of a successful pregnancy, as well as using donor embryos, which are given by those who have completed their families and are donating their extra embryos. Gestational carriers can help in case implantation or maintaining a pregnancy is the main issue.
5. Get support
IVF can be isolating, especially if you do not know anyone else who has experienced it firsthand. You may find fertility support groups helpful, and these are offered both online and in-person. A trusted friend or family member can also be invaluable to talk with about your treatments, or provide a good distraction from the stress. Please do let your fertility team know if you are feeling overwhelmed, as they will be able to provide advice and resources to help you.
If you are not comfortable with talking openly about your fertility treatments, there are other ways to support your emotional health through IVF including:
- Taking daily walks
If you are interested in learning about how you can grow your family with IVF, please contact us today to schedule an appointment with a CCRM Fertility specialist.
Written by: Dr. Sunny Jun, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and co-founder and co-medical director of CCRM San Francisco