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Considering IVF: What You Need to Know First

Infertility is not an uncommon condition. The inability to conceive naturally affects roughly 10% of the population in the United States. The majority of those couples, and individuals, whose fertility is compromised seek the help of a fertility specialist, and most will go on to conceive a child through the use of IVF.

Because IVF is so widely used and the success rates so positive the popularity of this procedure means there’s quite a bit of information available to you. However, not all of the information you’ll come across on in-vitro fertilization is true or authenticated. Whether searching the internet for information, or hearing the scuttlebutt from well-meaning friends you can take that information with a grain of salt.


What You Should Know

But, no worries!  If you’re considering IVF we have all the information you need in order to make an informed decision. Here is what you should know first before choosing this popular method of treatment for your infertility.


IVF Requires Dedication

You probably already know a single cycle of IVF takes up quite a bit of your schedule. In fact, some women need up to 2 months to prepare their bodies before implantation can take place. The first part of IVF involves suppressing your natural menstrual cycle with hormone medication. After that you will self-administer shots that will stimulate your ovaries.

The typical course is one to three shots daily for eight to twelve days. When the time is right your physician will administer a shot so your ovaries can release the mature eggs. Within 36 hours the eggs will be retrieved via an outpatient procedure, involving IV sedation. The eggs are fertilized and cultured to develop into viable embryos. Within the next week or month you will be implanted with your embryo(s) and a little over a week later, checked to see if the embryo has implanted successfully.

Throughout the process you will be monitored through various tests and procedures. Your medications may need to be adjusted and there will be blood tests and ultrasounds, so you should plan on spending a significant amount of time at clinic appointments. Many times it’s necessary to undergo more than one cycle of IVF.


Age Effects Outcome

While there are a lot of different factors which will impact your odds of successful IVF, age remains the biggest factor. Maternal age has a significant bearing on the success of your treatment if you’re using your own eggs. As you age the quality and viability of your eggs begin to diminish and it can be difficult to find eggs that are usable. Depending on your age you may consider using donor eggs from a younger woman.

While age can also impact a man’s sperm quality, it is to a much lesser extent. If your partner is concerned, or his sperm count, and motility aren’t very high, donor sperm is also consideration.


There Are Side Effects

If you’ve experienced PMS you probably have a grasp of the role hormones play in your mood. You may feel more emotional while undergoing IVF, it’s true. Manipulating your menstrual cycle is part of the IVF process, and can make you feel as though you’re on an emotional carnival ride-ups, downs, and all-arounds. The physical side effects, with which you may also be familiar, such as breast tenderness, bloating, discomfort and some cramping in the pelvic region, should also be anticipated.

In rare cases women may experience a condition called ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS), which may cause such unpleasant side effects as weight gain, abdominal pain, swelling, dizziness, nausea, and even vomiting. OHSS will resolve itself in most cases, however, if you experience any of the symptoms of OHSS you should contact your clinic.


IVF May Not Work for You

Although IVF is the most successful treatment for couples experiencing infertility to become pregnant, it doesn’t always work. No treatment is 100% guaranteed.

Most of the time couples will need to go through more than one cycle (3 cycles is the average number it takes to become pregnant). And some couples will only experience success through the use of donor eggs, or sperm. Women over the age of 45 have only a 3% chance of becoming pregnant using their own eggs.


Your Health Affects IVF Success

Before you embark on the IVF journey to pregnancy, take stock of your own health. You want to be in the best shape possible in order to improve your odds for success. That means letting all those bad habits go. Stop smoking, eat a clean diet free from processed foods, limit your alcohol intake and stop the use of other substances. If you are overweight, lose it now. Underweight? Work on getting to a healthy BMI. Your weight greatly impacts the success of your treatment.


IVF is Stressful

Going through treatment for IVF can be very stressful. Take all the steps you can to avoid any extra stress. Say no to obligations that put you in a position of stress, such as certain family events, or social situations. Make sure you and your partner set aside time to do something fun. Practice self-care. Step away from the often all-consuming focus of your fertility treatment and go do something you both enjoy.


If you find the stress to be too much, or feel as though you may be battling depression, alert your physician right away.

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