I am one of the lucky ones who was blessed with a baby through the IVF procedure last year. I wanted to share my experience with the procedure in case if it can be of any help to couples seeking medical assistance in conception. Before sharing my experience, here is a detail about the general process of IVF.
The Medical Definition Of IVF
In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. In layman’s language an IVF procedure involves the following steps –
Steps involved in In Vitro Fertilization
Step 1: Stimulating multiple follicles and eggs to develop
Step 2: Egg retrieval to get the eggs
Step 3: Fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory
Step 4: Accessing the quality of the embryo
Step 5: Embryo transfer to the uterus
Every patient(couple) has a different diagnosis depending on their health issues and fertility conditions.For a detailed reading, please go through: (https://www.createhealth.org/news/2014/ivf-step-by-step-process-from-the-woman-s-perspective)
When would you go for IVF?
IVF was originally developed for women with tubal factor infertility (non-functioning fallopian tubes); however, because of major advances, IVF is not always the treatment of last resort now. In fact, it is often the first-line of treatment.
Common female infertility indications for IVF treatment
- Fallopian Tube Damage
- Unexplained Infertility
- Age-related infertility
- Being at risk of genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis
Here’s how I planned and went about the process
We had already tried follicular examinations through local gynaecologist thrice before and we knew there we weren’t battling any fertility issues.
Despite that, not having conceived for over 6 years, our main concern was to find out which fertility treatment would help us. I wish we had not waited that long to opt for the treatment!
Doing a research these days is important as there are several clinics and facilities offering fertility treatments today at lower costs. It was mostly through the internet and by speaking to couples who had undergone the treatment that we decided for IVF. We were open to any other line of treatment that would be advised by the doctor, although to be honest, we had very little hopes with any other treatments before we started off.
What to look out for before selecting a Ivf center/facility?
Facilities will also vary greatly. Does the center have an IVF lab in their office or is this outsourced? Do they offer genetic testing? Do they have a research department? Take into account history, experience, services and staff when selecting a fertility center. It shows breadth and depth of an organization.
Remember not to opt for a particular facility just because they offer the treatment at a lower cost. Check the credibility first.
The most important statistic of any IVF clinic is the end result or “How many women take home a baby?” Another important statistic from each IVF clinic is the implantation rate. Implantation rate is calculated as clinical pregnancy rate divided by the number of embryos transferred. Higher pregnancy rate with lesser embryos transferred is always a good sign.
A good doctor shouldn’t deny you the right to ask him/her about such statistics and if needed pass on the contact details of the patients who completed the treatment too. Every individual case will be different and the quality of eggs and sperms retrieved also determines the success rate of a clinic.
If planning for an IVF procedure, bear these in mind
1. Be patient and resilient
A good doctor will always reveal before the start of the treatment that the procedure has 50% chances of failure. Don’t be disheartened, as they are preparing you to go through a tough phase in your life for a few months and letting you know the fact instead of assuring 100% results.
I was lucky enough for not having to go through the whole procedure again as thankfully there were enough embryos created for a second transfer process. Yes, the first transfer attempt had failed in my case. The wait after a transfer is of 14 days normally. After which you are advised to go through a blood pregnancy test which reveals if you have successfully conceived.
You will find these 14 days the most challenging to deal with, as you are ridden with numerous thoughts. The success of the whole treatment depends on that one blood report! I had a HPT test done too, even after a position blood report.. There was the level of excitement after knowing that we have conceived finally!
It’s imperative to be positive during this phase. Having an understanding partner here is very essential.
I must admit, I couldn’t sleep well in the 14 days leading to the blood test. Since the first transfer had failed, all my hopes were now pinned on the last transfer process.
During the whole treatment, you need to visit the facility multiple times, wait for your turn to meet the doctors (for hours in my case), get yourself admitted to go through all the procedures, go through multiple sonograms till the final transfer. All in all, it demands for you to be extremely patient and flexible. You cannot, under any circumstance lose your temper or become over anxious in reacting to certain situations.
You will need your husband to be by your side during the procedures, as there would be documents to be mutually signed by couples before every IVF procedure. The actual IVF procedures are not time consuming at all, but the wait and the preparations are. Any skilled and experienced doctor can complete the procedure of egg retrieval and transfer in a matter of 10 minutes. The process of egg retrieval is performed under anesthesia. The procedure involved are all non-invasive, hence you can bounce back to normalcy quickly.
A good doctor will not try and hide the reason you need a particular medication before the start of the treatment and will in detail guide you through the various steps involved in the treatment.
A good doctor will make sure you(as couple) go through routine examination before you start with the process. You need to go through tests to rule out PCOS, diabetes, thyroiditis, endometriosis, etc. Your husband needs to go through a routine sperm count and any other tests as deemed for by the doctor.
On a positive note, there are couples who are diabetic and facing other fertility problems who are conceiving through Ivf, so having faith and being resilient is the key here.
2. Be courageous:
You are in this for a reason; and the reason is a life changing opportunity to be a mother. So you have taken the decision to go through this.
One of my biggest fear was conquered during this treatment, the fear of injection! Sounds scary, right? But honestly you will lose count of the number of injections you needed in the whole process. The number of injections depends on your health condition and how your body is reacting to the oral medications.
The injections are mostly used before the egg retrieval procedure to stimulate your body to produce the several eggs and avoid premature ovulation so that they can be used for the procedure.
With IVF, the woman is stimulated with subcutaneously(on the skin) injected medications to develop multiple egg development. Subcutaneous injections are given with a very small needle, just under the skin. This is the same way that diabetics give themselves insulin shots.
Refraining from sugarcoating, this treatment is honestly not for the faint hearted! You have to be brave enough to let go of your past attempts at conceiving and start afresh. While waiting for hours for my turn to see the doctor, I normally chatted with patients sitting alongside and found that their stories of struggle were much greater and painstaking than mine. Few of them have opted for going through the entire process again as their initial attempt had failed.
While their stories made me scared and anxious about my fate, I cannot stop admiring their courage and resilience. I knew I was not the only one going through this phase in my life.
3. Your finances:
Get your finances sorted before you opt for IVF. As mentioned before, do not to opt for a particular facility just because they offer the treatment at a lower cost. Check the credibility of the center first.
A lot of couples end up taking bank loans to meet the expenses of the treatment. Every facility has a mix of doctors and staff with diverse experience and the cost of the procedures depends on the same and the facilities they offer at the center itself.
Make sure you keep side a minimum of 3 lakhs for the treatment. Your doctor will let you know the line of treatment to be followed in your case, which will determine the cost. The cost of injections also determines the total cost of your treatment as well. The more the injections needed, the more is the total cost.
4. Stay away from rumours:
After you have decided on the center to opt for your treatment, make sure to be strong enough to stay away from rumours, as they only create confusion and anxiety. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions on the facility, staff or line of treatment. Disclose all your health issues before you start off.
You will hear various rumours like :
-There are mostly chances of conceiving more than one baby through Ivf.
-A baby conceived through Ivf may be subjected to certain chromosomal abnormalities in future.
-Chances of conceiving normally for the second time after an Ivf treatment is very rare. Etc..
Although it’s easier said than done, once your treatment starts, stop reading online/offline about the various reviews on the treatment. As mentioned earlier, each case is different and you may not end up having to go through the same cycle as someone else did.
A. Sharing your experience and advising others is fine, but keep the news of your treatment to yourself and your close family at least till you finish the procedure. This will keep the unwanted advices and rumours from affecting you.
B. If unfortunately you do not conceive in the first cycle and wish to go for a second one, take a break; not only to organise your finances but also because your body has been through a lot in the past few months.
C. Applicable to you and your spouse: To prepare yourself, eat fresh food every day, have balanced meals and include a lot of fresh fruits in your diet. Avoid processed food. Cut on your sugar intake and watch your weight. If overweight, start that much needed exercise routine. Quit smoking. Avoid any other food or addictions affecting your hormonal cycle.
D. Most importantly, stay positive and believe in yourself and your doctor before and during the treatment. Your doctor too wants you to conceive as badly as you do.
So pray, as when God closes one door, he does open a few others for you! All the best to the couples opting for the treatment.