It’s infertility awareness week and today I am opening up about what I wish I had known about IVF before I was in the middle of it.
What I Wish I Had Known About IVF:
It’s More Shots Than I Expected
When IVF is mentioned on tv shows or movies, they don’t seem to mention that there would be times when I was giving myself 4-5 injections a day. I was also surprised to learn that there would be 3-4 rounds of shots for each IVF cycle. It isn’t just a few shots and you are done. It’s more like 60-80 shots a cycle.
It’s Expensive Even With Insurance
The first round cost us about $6000 out of pocket, and the second round cost $15,000.
There Are Lots of Steps
First we met with the doctor, then testing was done to determine a diagnosis. Then we did genetic testing on me. Next I was put on a thyroid medication. At this point we were finally ready and could get started. I went on a round of shots to get ready for the retrieval cycle. After I got my period we started the shots for the retrieval cycle, this required up to 5 injections a day for 12-14 days. Another round of shots prepped me for the embryo transfer after which point I was put on progesterone in oil shots.
It Can Take A Long Time
My first IVF cycle dragged on for 15 months. I had no idea that it could take so long, but when my hormones were not at the right levels, things kept getting pushed back.
The Odds Are Not In Your Favor
The success rate for an IVF cycle is 48% for women under the age of 35. For women over the age of 35, the success rate decreases.
You Are Not Alone
It’s easy to feel alone when you are going through IVF or any infertility struggle. Social media seems to be filled with pregnancy announcements, and I was left wondering: why me? To make matters worse, IVF doesn’t help your social life. With a calendar filled with doctors appointments and nights filled with administering shots, it’s hard to find the time to see friends. My best advice is to connect with women who have been through the same thing. The IVF community is huge on Facebook and Instagram and you can find people who understand what you are going through. Additionally, some clinics have support groups.
It’s a Major Time Commitment
I went to the doctor about 35 times during my first IVF cycle. There were times when I went once a month, and there were times when I went 5 times a week.
It Gets Easier When You Have Embryos
The first cycle took 15 months, but the second only took two months. The major difference is that the process is easier when you have embryos. Having a genetically normal embryo that made it to day 5 opened up more treatment options for us.
Not All Follicles Contain Eggs
When I did my first cycle I was told that I had 7 follicles leading up to the egg retrieval. I thought that meant that we would have 7 eggs after the retrieval. Nope! Two of the follicles did not contain eggs, so we only got 5 eggs total.
Not All Retrievals Work
The second retrieval didn’t work at all. No eggs were retrieved. We were given the option to cancel the cycle and not do the retrieval, but since we had already spent $8000 and I had taken medication for 2 weeks we wanted to give it a try.
Knowledge is Power
I am a firm believer in doing your own research. I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could ask my doctor the right questions. Reading up on IVF might bring treatment options to your attention. For me, I wanted to find a way to do an IVF cycle without taking Lupron. I also just learned that it is possible to do a natural transfer (transferring an embryo without hormone treatment and instead basing the timing on your natural cycle). The more I researched and spoke with others the more I learned.
For us, our doctor didn’t outline the entire process but kept telling us the next step. I wish I had asked for a timeline so I understood what I was getting into.
It’s Different for Everyone
There are so many reasons why women go through IVF. There are many women who go through IVF because their husbands have a low sperm count or a genetic condition. These women will have a different success rate from women who suffer from fertility issues themselves. Not only are there a variety of diagnoses, there are many different ways to do an IVF cycle. There are different medications and treatment options – this is something to ask your doctor about. For us doing a hybrid of a retrieval cycle and a frozen embryo transfer worked. We probably wouldn’t have decided to do the cycle that way if we hadn’t asked our doctor lots of questions.
People That Don’t Get It Can Be Really Annoying
The many people who try to offer advice even though they don’t have any personal experience with IVF can be annoying. I had so many people asking me if I tried acupuncture, certain supplements, or essential oils. I did my best to brush off their useless advice and avoid them.
The Shots and Doctor Appointments Don’t End When You Get Pregnant
I thought that I would be done with the fertility clinic and all the shots once I got a positive pregnancy test. I was wrong. Once I found out I was pregnant I was put on the dreaded progesterone in oil shot for 6 weeks and I had to go to the doctor once a week for an ultrasound and bloodwork until we reached the 8 week mark.
The Bills Keep Coming After You Get Pregnant
I was on three different progesterone supplements once I got pregnant and insurance didn’t pay for them. The cost was close to $100 a day for 6 weeks.