In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is possibly one of the most widely recognized treatments for infertility in the world. The high success rate for IVF, combined with the ever-growing technology in the area of fertility, makes IVF one of the first courses of treatment for couples, or individuals, who are trying to conceive.
The basics of IVF are thought to be understood by most people. Mom-to-be is given medication to speed up maturation of the eggs, making it possible for the doctor to extract several eggs at one time. The eggs are then taken to a lab and mixed with sperm. By attempting fertilization of your eggs in a controlled environment, physician can help improve the odds of fertilization.
After the doctor ensures the viability of the fertilized eggs, or embryos, are now ready for transfer to the uterus. The embryos are placed directly into your uterus, where the intention is for the embryo, or embryos, to implant and pregnancy to occur.
But there is much more to IVF than these basics. Between the hormonal fluctuations brought on by the medications that ready your eggs for retrieval, and the days and weeks surrounding your IVF, there’s much to consider before attempting the treatment and procedures. Obviously, when you’re holding your precious bundle in your arms, you will realize the outcome was more than worth the effort, but there are some facts you need to know before applying for IVF.
7 Facts About IVF You Need to Know
Once you’ve made the decision to begin IVF, you’ve begun the journey toward welcoming your baby and growing your family. Knowing what you can expect going forward can do much to alleviate your stress over the process. Here are 7 facts about IVF that you need to know.
- IVF Takes Time and Focus:Your IVF success depends on harnessing control over much of your natural hormonal cycles. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to make sure everything that needs to happen occurs on schedule. The first step in successful IVF is suppressing your menstrual cycle, which takes up to 14 days, your ovaries will then need to be stimulated by self-administering 1-3 shots daily, over the course of up to 7-10 days. You’ll be closely monitored and then, when the time is right, you will be given a shot to encourage your ovaries to release the mature eggs. After about 34-36 hours, your eggs will be retrieved. This requires light sedation. Once the eggs are collected, they are fertilized and it takes about 6 days for the embryos to grow, and become viable. Finally, your embryos will be implanted.
- There are Physical Side Effects: Though the side effects from your hormone shots are not normally severe, you can expect some uncomfortable issues to occur. Breast tenderness and swelling, bloating, abdominal bruising (from the injections), and physical discomfort like you might associate with PMS, will last for a few weeks.
- There are Emotional Side Effects: Most individuals who are emotionally even-keeled will experience some degree of the blues, or anxiety, and so many ups and downs you, and those around you, are likely to get dizzy. For those already coping with high anxiety, and depression, expect your condition to worsen, and possibly continue until you deliver your baby.
- Stress Can Take a Toll: Infertility itself can make you one stressed out, irritable mess, but IVF can take all of your worry, concern, and fear and add in a cocktail of hormones that will add to your feelings of being out of control. Knowledge, on the other hand, is power, so make sure you understand what’s happening every step of the way.
- Success May Take More Than One Course of IVF: It’s quite possible for you to become pregnant during your first course of IVF. However, the majority of women with low egg reserve undergoing IVF for infertility must go through a few cycles of treatment. It’s recommended that women plan on 2-3 courses of IVF to achieve a successful pregnancy.
- Practice Self Care: It’s easy to become so caught up with your IVF treatments and focused on a successful outcome that you lose sight of yourself, and your relationships, in the process. Take time away from the IVF fray to meditate, go for walks, get out in nature; Leave your phone on silent. Dive into your favorite hobbies, or activities, and, most of all, do not allow yourself to think negative thoughts about your body, or yourself. That’s self-defeating, and harmful, when you need to be in your most positive frame of mind.
IVF can be a difficult undertaking for most couples, and individuals. Your body, your mind, your heart, are all so invested in the success of your treatment. Understanding all that you’ll be going through during this trying, and hopeful, time can help you approach your IVF realistically, diminish your stress, and know what’s around the corner.