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Navigating Your IVF Journey – Your Checklist Part 1

A diagnosis of compromised fertility can be overwhelming for most couples. First you need to come to grips with the notion of not conceiving a child naturally, then you need to determine next steps. For many couples, and individuals pursuing pregnancy, the most successful method is in vitro fertilization.

IVF has been around since the late 1970’s.With the evolution of advanced reproductive technology, IVF has grown in popularity, especially for mothers of advanced maternal age (over 35). IVF has allowed families to grow who, a few generations ago, would not be able to otherwise.

When you decide on IVF as a means to grow your family it’s easy to feel lost. You’ve had to reevaluate this journey to parenthood, and if you know very little about the process of IVF you need a roadmap, a GPS, a plan with landmarks you can recognize. Our checklist strives to provide you with all you need to expect along the way as you set off on your IVF journey.

 

Initial Consultation

Your IVF journey begins with an initial consultation with your fertility team. It’s very important that you feel a connection with the members of your fertility team. You’ll need to trust them and feel comfortable asking any questions you may have-now and later on. The team is committed to keeping you healthy before, during, and after IVF.

Once you’re comfortable with your team you, and your partner, will be tested to ensure IVF is the right course for you. You can expect:

  • A thorough physical examination of both you and your partner
  • Ultrasound, or x-rays, or your reproductive system, and your partner’s as well
  • Assessment of your hormones
  • Laparoscopy for women, and semen analysis for men
  • Questions pertaining to your sexual history

Every IVF experience is unique and you may be required to undergo other types of testing, depending on the results of your initial consultation. It’s wise to address any questions or concerns you may have at this time. Be sure to write down all of those questions prior to your appointment. You will likely be overwhelmed at the time and may not be able to recall those concerns you have.

 

Prepping Your Body for IVF

Depending on the results of your tests, you may been your IVF treatment within a month. That means you need to be serious about prepping your body for IVF. You want to be as healthy as possible to reduce the risk of complications. Here are 7 ways you can prepare your body for IVF:

 

  1. Stop smoking now, especially cigarettes. Nicotine pills and patches are also a no-no. There is evidence that nicotine can prematurely age the ovaries, make eggs resistant to fertilization, and is ten times more concentrated in uterine fluid.
  2. Do not consume alcohol. Alcohol consumption can pose a risk not only to a developing fetus, but the success of your IVF. By stopping now you remove the risk, and improve your odds of a successful pregnancy.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in folic acid, iron, B vitamins, and omegas is excellent for women preparing for IVF. Find out exactly what you should be eating here.
  4. Take vitamins. It can be difficult to get all that you need right now from diet alone. Begin taking a prenatal vitamin now. Here is a list of the vitamins that can help boost your fertility as you prepare for IVF.
  5. Get your sleep. Your body naturally responds better to the medications you’ll be taking when you’re well-rested. Stick to a nightly ritual, take a bubble bath, sip some chamomile tea, and unwind by doing some yoga to help you sleep.
  6. Reduce stress. This may be easier said than done, but you really need to lighten your load and shut down stress. This may require you to just say no to certain social obligations, or extra work right now. Remember what’s at stake and do your best to alleviate any and all stressors.
  7. Breathe! This may sound like a no-brainer but learning the correct way to breathe for relaxation can eliminate stress hormones faster than any drug can. Slow, deep belly breaths are essential for calming and soothing the nervous system. Practice taking a deep belly-breath through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly expel the breath through your mouth.

 

Once you begin your IVF treatment you will be required to give yourself regular shots. The area around your injection site may become sore. Try icing the spot before you insert the needle. If you are fearful of needles try the belly-breathing exercise above.

 

What to Expect

Your next step is to begin treatment. Your doctor will schedule appointments to monitor your ovulation, and you will be given medication to stimulate egg production. The goal is to get your ovaries to produce as many mature eggs as possible, so they can be fertilized, giving you the best chance for conception.

Once you begin your IVF treatment you will be required to give yourself regular shots. The area around your injection site may become sore. Try icing the spot before you insert the needle. If you are fearful of needles try the belly-breathing exercise above.

In the next installment of our checklist for navigating your IVF journey we’ll go over what you can expect when your eggs are harvested, implantation of the embryo, and the beginning of pregnancy.

Of course every IVF experience, just like every case of infertility, is unique and will require a customized approach. The above checklist is designed to give you some idea of what to expect when you begin your IVF journey.