12 Things You Need To Know About IVF

In vitro fertilization is a procedure that can help you get pregnant if you’re struggling to conceive. However, it’s a complex and intense procedure so if you’re considering it, you need to know what you’re in for. Here’s some vital information on IVF.

  1. It’s a lot of hard work. If you’re interested in IVF, it’s going to take a lot out of you so you have to be prepared. What kind of hard work will it entail? Think taking fertility medications, going to lots of doctor’s visits, having lots of blood tests and having eggs removed, along with emotional ups and downs.
  2. It’s not just a simple procedure—it’s a lengthy, complicated process. For 10 to 12 days, you take fertility meds that usually involve injecting yourself with them daily. This boosts the ovaries so they can start producing many eggs, increasing your chances of getting pregnant. During this time, you’ll be seeing your doctor almost every day for things like ultrasounds and blood tests. Then, the doctor removes eggs from your ovaries under general anesthesia and will add these to your partner’s sperm in the lab. About four days after your eggs have been retrieved, an embryo (or more) will be placed into your uterus. Then, two weeks after that procedure, you’ll have to go back to your doc for pregnancy tests to see if it worked.
  3. You have to prepare your body beforehand. The IVF procedure will work better if you look after your health before deciding to get it done. That means cutting down on unhealthy foods and booze, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking.
  4. It’s extremely expensive. Just one IVF cycle can cost $12,000 or more. Even worse news? Most insurance companies won’t cover the cost. It’s important to bear in mind the sad reality that even if you can cover the cost and are ready AF to go through the process, IVF might still not work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, of course, but it is something to consider.
  5. So what’s the success rate of IVF? You’re looking at the odds of success being between 34 and 42% and on average, women have to go through two or three IVF cycles before they conceive.
  6. The process has side effects. As with any treatment, there are side effects to expect. These can be minimal inconveniences such as cramping, bloating, and moodiness, but they can also be more severe, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is basically what happens when the meds cause your ovaries to produce too many eggs. You might experience swelling, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath.
  7. You can pick your baby’s gender. Interestingly, with IVF you can choose what gender you’d like your baby to be. This requires a test during the procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). However, you have to sign for it and it’s not covered by health insurance. It will cost you another few thousand dollars to have done.
  8. Your risk of postpartum depression increases. If you go through with IVF, it helps to know that you might have an increased risk of postpartum depression when you do give birth to a baby. A study conducted in Denmark found that women who gave birth thanks to IVF or another type of reproduction treatment were five times as likely to develop postpartum depression as women who didn’t conceive after having the treatment.
  9. You might have twins. Having IVF can increase your chance of having twins because when your eggs are retrieved and added to sperm in the lab, creating an embryo, doctors usually put more than one embryo into your uterus. This is to increase your chances of getting pregnant, but it also means that more than one embryo can attach and continue growing.
  10. You need to be in a good place emotionally. The IVF process can be physically and emotionally taxing, so make sure you’re not only in a healthy physical state before starting it but also that you’re feeling emotionally calm and strong. This will enable you to ride out the various emotions and stress that you’ll experience throughout the process. It’s also a good idea to have a solid support system that you can rely on during this time.
  11. It might not work miracles. Many clinics that offer IVF today will market it as a solution to various problems such as low sperm count, unexplained infertility, and even endometriosis. Still, it’s good to note that scientists haven’t actually found evidence that IVF can solve all these conditions. IVF is still mainly successful for women who have a decreased ovarian supply.
  12. There are budget IVF clinics, but beware. Budget IVF clinics offer low-dose hormone treatments so that you don’t have to spend so much money on meds. But, this type of IVF process only works on younger women who want to conceive and it will produce fewer eggs. The real reason why these clinics are so affordable? They use fewer resources during lab procedures, but they might not be worth it if you have your heart set on having a baby.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.