When you’re longing for a child, infertility can be heartbreaking — but in vitro fertilization, or IVF, can be the answer.
IVF is the most common type of assisted reproductive technology in use, and it involves removing a woman’s eggs from her body and fertilizing them in a lab to create embryos. Once the embryos have started to develop, they are then transferred back into the woman’s uterus in hopes of a successful pregnancy.
“It sounds relatively straightforward,” says Dr. Merhi of New Hope Fertility Long Island. “IVF can be challenging. Anyone considering IVF should take the time to research their options and really understand as much as they can about the process.”
With that in mind, here are the top three things you should know about IVF before you start:
1. There’s no guarantee you’ll have a successful pregnancy.
IVF is highly effective, and the science of assisted reproductive technology is constantly advancing. Just the same, every woman’s situation is unique, and many different factors can affect your chances of success.
A woman’s age, in particular, can influence whether or not IVF is likely to be successful. According to the latest data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, women under 35 years of age had a 33.6% rate of success with IVF, while women over 42 years of age were only successful 2.8% of the time.
Your choice of doctor can also make a difference. When researching IVF clinics, make sure you find out how their success rates compared to the national average.
2. Your fertility treatments need to become your primary focus.
You cannot fit IVF treatments into your regular routine and hope to just work around them. IVF is a complicated, time-consuming process with many steps, and the timing is rarely something that you can conveniently slip into a schedule.
Typically, IVF requires the use of medication for several days to stimulate your ovaries. During that time, your doctor will continuously monitor your condition through bloodwork and ultrasounds. When the eggs are ready to be retrieved, you’ll undergo surgery. Several days later, you’ll undergo another procedure to have the embryos implanted.
If all goes well, two weeks later you’ll have a positive pregnancy test and start the next stage of your pregnancy journey. If not, the cycle will start all over again.
3. You will need plenty of support to help you during your journey.
When people think about the cost of IVF, they usually think about their financial investment in the process — but the mental and emotional toll fertility treatments can take on your well-being can be even higher.
While you’re going through IVF, it helps to gather all the support you can. For some women, that may mean relying on support groups or a therapist. Others may seek out specialized services like fertility counseling, genetic testing, and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy.
Finally, the number one thing to remember is that IVF is just one of the many different options you may have. If IVF isn’t right for you, there are other ways to become a parent. Working with an experienced, compassionate reproductive specialist is the first step toward your goal.