Are you thinking about doing IVF?
Maybe you’re in the midst of IVF right now?
Or, have you just completed an embryo transfer?
Great. Then these five things are for you. With over a decade of experience I have seen it all, and I want to distill what I’ve learned about IVF and what I want you to get clear on and know before, during, and after. I even dedicated a show to this very topic.
1. Clearly define why you’re doing IVF
I know it sounds like a dumb request; you likely want a baby. But what is your underlying diagnosis and reason for pursuing that baby via IVF?
I want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to achieve scucess, and if it’s a health condition, that all angles for improving that condition have been explored before IVF.
Let me paint a couple of scenarios for you.
If you’re doing IVF because sperm count is low, then do a sperm fitness challenge before you start. See a urologist, take supplements, and consider advanced sperm DNA tests. After this, do you still need to pursue IVF?
If you’re doing IVF because you are overweight and not ovulating regularly, then put together a plan to lose weight before you start IVF. A healthy BMI sets the stage for a more successful transfer and healthy pregnancy. Think of it as an opportunity to get into the best shape of your life. And if you haven’t heard of the egg whisperer D.I.E.T. then consider watching this show to learn more.
Do the work now to make sure you have the highest chance for the healthiest pregnancy before, during, and after IVF.
2. Recognize that relationships may change after IVF
There are countless, heartbreaking stories of couples fighting over the fate of embryos post divorce. In a story that made national headlines you can quickly get a sense for the gravity of such situation as Dr. Mimi Lee shares her experience here.
She made embryos, and the relationship changed. Her ex-husband won in court and the embryos were destroyed. It’s a heartbreaking story.
No one thinks that will happen to them, but it could and so I want you to be prepared. Read your IVF consent forms carefully. Treat it like a legal contract. If you are having issues in your relationship work them out before you create embryos. Consider freezing eggs instead of embryos. Or, after you create embryos, before you transfer, freeze eggs too.
3. Make a plan for unused embryos
When you’re just happy with even one baby at the start of your journey, you aren’t thinking of the possibility of having embryos you may never use. However, for most people it will be a decision you have to make.
Talk to your partner, psychologist, and a family trust attorney about what you would want to happen early in the process.
I recently had a patient tell me she had cancer and froze embryos and donated them to science so they could learn more about cancer. Sadly, that isn’t happening.
Donating embryos to science means an embryologist in-training will be practicing their techniques on your donated embryos. That’s it. You’re not helping cure cancer. I’m sorry.
Embryo donation to someone that may use them to conceive is a great option. Discarding is irreversible and I have had patients experience discard regret when they didn’t get counseling ahead of their decision.
Think this through. I don’t want you to experience emotional anguish.
4. Know that pregnancy isn’t easy
There seems to be this expectation out there that once you are pregnant, all of a sudden you’ll turn into a radiant, sexual, glowing goddess and any problems you experienced before pregnancy will go away.
I have news for you, none of that’s true. It is very normal after a hard struggle to get pregnant (and even if you didn’t have to get fertility care) for pregnancy to be just plain awful. You’re tired, bloated, nauseous, hormonal, and on top of that, you’re anxious all the time because you want to make sure you’re doing everything perfectly to give your baby the highest chances for a healthy delivery.
Here’s a helpful book on finding calm for the expecting mom.
5. Fertility trauma may linger
It may never go away. Trauma is real. Even after you have delivered a healthy baby the trauma and stress after treatment is something you should prepare for and be ready to recognize.
Even after a successful pregnancy you may feel pregnancy envy and sadness around other people’s pregnancy joy. And that’s okay.
You can still be happy for a friend and remember what you went through to achieve pregnancy and feel sad. Know that what you’re experiencing is normal. Reach out to Parijat for coping skills about this very issue.