IVF is one of several fertility treatments available to help those who want to have a baby and have been unable to conceive naturally. Although, when successful, it is worth it in the long run, the IVF process can be emotionally-taxing, lengthy and there are many factors that you will need to consider before committing to it. Here are a few that we recommend talking about as a couple.
As there are various stages involved, IVF can be a lengthy process. To give you a rough timescale, a single cycle of IVF can take between four and six weeks. It involves hormone therapy which stimulates the ovaries to produce more follicles than usual, egg collection, growing the eggs into viable embryos and then transferring the best one or two into the womb with the hopes of a successful pregnancy. This will undoubtedly require commitment as you will need to attend several appointments, so time and your availability are factors that you will certainly need to consider.
IVF begins with hormone therapy as touched on earlier which is usually self-administered through injections. This can cause slight tenderness at the site, as well as other side effects such as pressure, cramps, bloating in the pelvic area, breast tenderness, and discomfort. While rare, there is also the chance of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, or OHSS, for those with high sensitivity to fertility medicine. This is where too many eggs develop in the ovaries which can become painful, and in severe cases become dangerous. Below are a few symptoms that can be brought on.
- Pain and bloating in the lower abdomen
- Feeling sick and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling faint
If this is something that you are concerned about, Minimal Stimulation and Mild IVF is an alternative that you may wish to consider. Lower doses of medication are used which reduces the risk of OHSS, however fewer follicles are produced and available compared to conventional IVF. As you would imagine, this lowers the chance of a successful pregnancy.
Complications and Multiple Births
Multiple births (pregnancies resulting in twins, triplets, and more) bring about increased risks for any pregnancy. There is a higher chance of maternal complications, premature delivery, low birth rate and associated problems. IVF can increase the likelihood of multiple births; however, it can be managed through limiting the number of embryos transferred.
General Health and Wellbeing
In addition to the above, you should also think about your general health and how that may affect your chances. Lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking can significantly affect fertility as we’ve shared in a previous post. Certain health conditions can also affect your chances, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. For the best chances of success, consider making adjustments and cutting back on any harmful habits.
While IVF offers high chances of success, you may not be successful the first time and require additional cycles. This can make the process emotionally challenging which is why we recommend counselling for all going through the process.
If you would like to learn more about IVF or any other fertility treatments that we provide, feel free to get in touch with our expert team.