Trying to become pregnant? Looking for an IVF procedure, but not sure about it? Here are some facts that you should consider to help you decide whether IVF is for you or if you should start to look into home insemination or IUI.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a process of assisted reproductive technology that helps produce a healthy embryo by fertilizing the sperm with the egg, then implanting the embryo in the uterus and getting pregnant. It has many steps and multiple cycles may be required for a higher success rate. Owing to the advancement in its technologies, IVF treatment has become quite common in couples nowadays. But before opting for an IVF procedure, there are few factors that should be considered:
1. IVF is time-consuming:
IVF takes time depending upon how fast your body will adapt and respond to the medications. In the process, there are various steps that will have to be followed.
- Firstly, the normal menstrual cycle will be suppressed with the help of daily hormone injections, or hormonal birth controls.
- Then for the next 8-12 days, you will have to take self-administered shots ranging from 1-3 every day for ovarian stimulation.
- After this, the doctor will give you a shot to ensure egg release as your body will have produced enough mature eggs by now. You will be asked to visit after 36 hours for an egg retrieval process. It is a short outpatient procedure.
- After collecting the eggs, they are fertilized with sperm from your partner or a sperm donor. They are left to be fertilized for 6 days.
- Finally, 1 or more embryos are selected and implanted on the woman using a catheter. You will have to take hormone pills or daily shots of progesterone to ensure that the embryo survives.
There will be constant tests, injections, medication, ultrasounds, and doctor’s appointments that you will have to attend to throughout this process.
2. Expensive procedure:
The affordability factor is one of the major concerns for couples undergoing IVF treatment. Multiple complicated systems and expensive medicines are what make IVF a costly affair. It is advisable to check with your insurance company if they cover IVF treatments, as most insurance companies do not. Look for affordable options. Many hospitals and clinics aim to make IVF as affordable as they can, to ensure more participation and success rates.
3. It is Stressful:
Though the treatment is about getting from point A to B with multiple stops in between, making it a linear, step-by-step process, is entirely stressful. It is because there are so many procedures and the patients are not aware of what is the purpose of each step and yet have to undergo these procedures. The best way to combat stress is by asking plenty of questions to your doctor and being informed about what and why regarding the process. It will help get a sense of control over the situation. IVF often strains the couple relationships owing to their difficulty getting pregnant, ending up treating sex as a job, and their stress over the treatment being successful.
4. Your Age:
When undergoing IVF, a younger age helps bring a higher success rate than advanced age. After the age of 35, there is a decline in fertility where the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries are declined. This makes it challenging to conceive once your age is increasing. When it comes to men, their fertility remains stable till a higher age, but their sperm count decreases owing to a decrease in testosterone levels. They, too, experience a decrease in the quality and quantity of sperm. Hence, it is better to start treatment early to ensure a higher success rate.
5. Multiple Cycles may be required:
The success rate of IVF with just one cycle is 35%. One must remember that once the couple is into the IVF procedure, it is not only one cycle that provides success, but rather they have to undergo a course of long-term treatments. You can ask your doctor regarding the success rates with one process and over the long term- treatment. It is seen that chances of success increase with an increase in the number of cycles.
6. Probability of Multiple Pregnancies:
When the embryo is planted in a woman, there is a higher chance of success for the source to survive and to get pregnant with the implantation of multiple sources. However, it also increases the chances of various healthy embryos surviving. In such a case, it is important to discuss what you want to do with the numerous healthy embryos. If you wish to donate your seed for adoption, give it to science or destroy it. Making a decision on this before starting treatment is necessary. There are hospitals that do operate with a ‘single embryo transfer’ policy as well, since often complications may arise with multiple pregnancies.
7. Possible Side Effects:
Since you will be receiving hormone injections, you will be more likely to experience drastic mood swings and feel emotional owing to hormonal fluctuations during the process of your IVF cycle. There will be other minor side effects like bloating, cramping, breast tenderness, and even discomfort from medication and injections. Suppose a woman undergoing IVF treatment ends up producing too many eggs (called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). In that case, she may gain weight, experience swelling and pain in the abdominal region, feel dizzy, short of breath, nauseous, and vomit. Those who are predisposed to anxiety and depression tend to feel these are manifesting as a result of the stress.
It’s important to consider all the facts before undergoing an IVF procedure. You can also discuss various other options with your doctor regarding donor eggs, donor embryos, or donor sperms. You may feel pessimistic and disappointed about yourself due to infertility, but it is important to take care of yourself to lessen the stress during the process. Taking care of yourself by meditating, engaging in a hobby, massaging, etc. is as important as the IVF treatment. Stay hopeful. It will be worth all the hard work in the end.