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13 Things People Don't Tell You About IVF

The process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be complex, but there are some things about IVF that are not widely known, or not fully understood. Here is a thorough breakdown of things about and surrounding the procedure of IVF.

November 6, 2020
Alisha Chunara

After the second or third day, she needs to self-administer hormonal stimulant shots for every day for 10 to 12 days so that she is able to produce more matured eggs. Those eggs will then be recovered and inseminated at the clinic, and the formed embryos will grow for one week. Afterwards, if the family wishes to do so, the embryos can then be sent for genetic testing. Then, there is a waiting period of about a month until the embryos are prepared to be implanted into the woman’s uterus and possibly leading to a pregnancy.

All in all, the process involves six weeks in the beginning to know the amount of genetically normal embryos a woman has, one month plus four to six weeks to prepare the uterus’s lining before the embryo can be placed into the uterus, and ten days to know if the woman has become pregnant or not.

2. Appointments

The IVF procedure requires the woman wishing to conceive to set up appointments to visit the IVF clinic for monitoring purposes. Usually the woman will not have much flexibility in choosing which days she wants to set her appointments, since her ultrasounds and lab results will be the basis for when she needs to have her appointments. Therefore, timing is crucial; the woman would need to arrange everything going on in her life around these appointments.

3. What happens during “Embryo Transfer” Day?

On the day that the embryo will be transferred to the uterus of the woman wishing to conceive, the woman will need to drink 32 ounces of water so that she has a full bladder before the actual transfer procedure, which only takes five minutes. This is so that the uterus will be more visible for the doctor to precisely put the embryos in the correct location.

4. What exactly do you need to pay for during IVF treatments?

Not a lot of insurances cover the full or even partial parts of the IVF procedure so it would be beneficial to check to make sure if yours does. Even if you have medical insurance, you will probably be required to pay a deductible as well as the maximum out-of-pocket amount before your insurance comes in to cover 100% or even some of your treatment. 

Also, there is no insurance available to cover the genetic testing of embryos that looks for any genetic abnormalities, also referred to as pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS). If you want PGS, you will need to pay around $4,000 or more for testing each batch of embryos you want to test. Also, PGS does not test for all genetic irregularities but just for the most common chromosomal abnormalities that cause disabilities like Down’s Syndrome.

5. The Pre-IVF Testing

Before starting on IVF, the woman wishing to conceive will be administered various tests, one of which will be a Tubal Patency test, also known as a Water Ultrasound. This test checks to see if there are no blockages in the fallopian tubes, and feels very painful to endure. The feeling is similar to severe menstrual cramps and can last hours after the test.

person in light green shirt holding a blue packet of white pills
One of the medications that women doing IVF treatments will take includes the birth control pill. Image courtesy of OVO fertility.

6. Who is the Reason Couples Need to Choose IVF?

A 2020 medical journal published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that in around 30% of the cases, men solely contribute to infertility, in 50% of the cases, women contribute to infertility, and in 20% of the cases, both genders contribute to infertility. Therefore, it can be concluded that the woman is not always the cause of infertility based on the findings in the journal, unlike what society in general thinks when it comes to fertility issues in relationships. 

7. What sort of Medication is taken during IVF?

Before every cycle of IVF treatments, the woman wishing to conceive will take various medications. Birth control pills will also be taken for two reasons: One, so that the woman’s reproductive system is reset and two, so that the hospital that is conducting the IVF treatments can schedule the treatments conveniently. What most hospitals do is that they devote one week out of the month for retrieving eggs and sync the menstrual cycles of all of their patients so that they are all prepared within that one week.

The side effects of taking these medications include experiencing bloating due to high estrogen levels. 

a woman lying down with her left hand on her forehead and her right hand holding a green water bag on her stomach
Brace yourself for intense periods of bloating when going through the IVF procedure. Image courtesy of CIIN.

8. Abstinence from Sex

Abstinence from sex is mandatory when IVF treatments are being conducted because ovaries can get damaged, which is referred to as ovarian torsion. Also, sex is prohibited in order to avoid an uncontrolled pregnancy because the woman wishing to conceive cannot examine the embryo formed in an uncontrolled pregnancy for abnormalities like in the IVF process.

a man on top of a woman on a bed in an intimate embrace
Sexual intercourse is not advised during the IVF process in order to ensure the safety of the ovaries. Image courtesy of healthcentral.

9. Abstinence from Intense Exercise

Exercising activities that are intense and straining are prohibited during the IVF process so that there’s no risk of ovarian torsion.

10. Getting Pregnant through IVF isn’t Guaranteed

The chances of having a successful pregnancy through IVF will depend on various factors like the age of the eggs of a woman wishing to conceive through IVF, and those chances decrease as women age. In addition, the success rates also vary between IVF clinics.

11. IVF can be Mentally and Emotionally Draining

Depression and anxiety has been commonly reported among couples, most especially the mothers, so stress management is important to exercise. 

12. IVF could be needed the second time around

The condition “secondary infertility” can be caused by age and health changes, or it can be unexplained, which may be a reason why IVF may be needed a second time in order to conceive.

13. IVF is chosen more than you think

Around one in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant, so IVF should not be stigmatized.

Be sure to check on your medical condition for bearing children, whether you are a potential mother or father, as well as the entire IVF procedure, as deciding on IVF isn’t easy.

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