We recently ran a survey of our members asking them for the top 3 things they wish they’d known before embarking on their IVF journeys.
These are women who have an intimate knowledge and personal experience of the IVF process.
The responses were heartfelt and profound.
They were so profound, in fact, that I’d like to share the most common with you:
IVF is Not a Magic Pill
“I was under the impression that if you don’t get pregnant naturally you do with IVF. After doing some research and talking to friends I realised that’s not true. In fact, far from it. Only 26-28% of IVF cycles are successful.”
How Much it Costs
“IVF isn’t covered by insurance so we had to pay ourselves. Our clinic charges $12,000 per cycle but this does not include drugs or any “add-ons”. All-in it cost us $14,376!
We could only afford one cycle so we needed to make it work.
In this context, investing in preparing for our cycle was a no-brainer. We ditched the Starbucks’ coffees (which you should do anyway when TTC) and other things we didn’t need and put this money towards our preparations.
Fortunately, it worked! We gave birth to a beautiful little girl.”
Your Biological Clock is Ticking
“I’d spent my 20s and early 30s trying not to get pregnant. I thought having a baby was easy. You have sex without protection for a few months then 9 months later your little bundle arrives.
Except it doesn’t, or at least it didn’t for us. We started trying seriously when I was 35. Things weren’t happening and we soon learnt that fertility declines rapidly from the age of 30.
I wish I’d know how important it is to take action ASAP to give yourself a chance of having a family.”
Preparing for IVF is Another Thing to do but Needn’t be Too Much Work
“When it was suggested to me that I needed to prepare for IVF to give myself the best chance I thought “I don’t have the time” and “it’s going to be too much work”.
I had learnt that there are lots of things I could do to boost my chances and while these gave me hope I also felt overwhelmed.
But I was desperate to have a child.
Developing a plan was key for us. Once we’d decided what steps we were going to take putting them in a plan helped a lot. We knew what we should be doing (and what we shouldn’t be doing!) each day to increase our chances.
Sure, it took some effort at the beginning but then it soon became a habit we didn’t think about.”
Doctors Don’t Have All the Answers
“Doctors are held up by society as being people of authority. They know what they are talking about and they have all the answers.
Well I am a doctor and I can tell you this isn’t true! Our training encourages us to specialise in a specific area but this can mean our focus becomes too narrow.
So, doctors don’t have all the answers. Don’t let them dictate what’s possible based on their own repertoire of (limited) treatment options they make available.”
Look Closely at the “Success Rates”
“I fell for the success rates advertised by the first clinic we used. It’s only when reading your blog post that I realised I had been duped.
Firstly, the clinic defined “success” as a chemical pregnancy not a birth. They also gave the rates for women under 30 who are usually the best candidates.
On top of this they didn’t make clear that they recommended multiple embryo transfers which distorted the figures and led to lots of twin and triplet pregnancies.
I couldn’t believe clinics would do this or how they get away with it”
Note: the blog post is available here.
Find People You Can Trust
“We heard so many voices on our IVF journey we weren’t sure who to listen to. There’s so much well-meaning advice it can be overwhelming.
It was important to us to find people who had been there and done it. People who had bought the IVF t-shirt!
Our clinic was great but they had never been in our position so couldn’t truly understand.”
“Fertility issues are difficult enough to cope with as it is. But, they are magnified by the IVF drugs.
First, you’re desperate to see the follicles growing at each scan.
Then through the mist of hormones and sedation you listen to your doctor tell you how many eggs have actually been retrieved.
Next, it’s biting your nails overnight waiting for the call to hear how many have fertilised.
The waiting continues for four more days to see how many embryos have turned into blastocysts whilst being given yet more hormones to thicken your womb.
Then it’s transfer day and the dreaded 2 week wait when you’re on the lookout for any sign you might be pregnant or that things may have gone wrong.
I wish I’d known how stressful it is before my first cycle. My nerves were shredded by the end and I’m not an emotional person.
For my second cycle I learned coping techniques that helped make things bearable.”
Importance of Optimising the “3 Keys”
“You emphasise the importance of taking steps to optimise your eggs, sperm and womb. This is so true. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility as all our lab results came back normal.
This was frustrating. At least a diagnosis would help direct our clinic’s efforts. With the unexplained diagnosis it felt like they just followed a “painting by numbers approach”.
My husband and I followed the IVF Success Plan, all our test results improved and I got pregnant in our first cycle!”
I Thought IVF Would be Quick
“After months of trying and a referral to an IVF doctor I thought I’d be pregnant in a month or two. No such luck.
Back then I hadn’t realised that success rates were low so I thought it would work first time. I’d have a few injections, some scans and an embryo transfer then I’d be pregnant!
It sounds so naïve now!
But my clinic did nothing to make my expectations more realistic so how was I to know it could take many months and many cycles?”
Taking Time to Prepare Saves Time in the Long Run
“After being advised to try IVF I wanted to get started immediately. I figured the sooner I started a cycle the sooner I’d have my little one.
It was only after speaking to a friend who’d been through 3 failed cycles that I changed my mind. For her fourth attempt she and her partner took time to prepare themselves properly. And it worked! She got pregnant and had a healthy little boy.
She wished she hadn’t rushed into her cycles and instead prepared properly.
When I got talking to other women in a support group I found the same theme. So many said they wished they’d started preparing months/years ago.
Thankfully, I learnt from these experiences and we took time to get ourselves ready. The result? We got pregnant at the first go and I am now 37 weeks!”
“Natural Remedies” are Proven to Increase Your Chances
“I’ve taught childbirth classes for 23 years and try to keep up with the latest research. But I never realised how effective natural remedies are in improving IVF success. I learned SO much about what to do and what not to do.
And, most important, they’re all backed by independent scientific research proving they work.
When you’re trying to conceive, it’s easy to get lost in a lot of anecdotal stories. Not everything you read on the internet is true so having the research is vital.”
“Going through IVF made me feel pretty defeated and completely out of control. It wasn’t until I started to take a more proactive and informed approach to our infertility that I felt empowered, more in control of my destiny.
Developing an action plan to succeed with IVF puts you in a “can-do” mindset for giving yourself the best possible chance of getting pregnant.
This sense of power gave me hope that I can do my part in this crazy rollercoaster of trying to have a baby.”
There is Hope. Believe in Yourself
“It’s all too easy to lose hope and stop believing you can do it. I already felt like a failure having to go down the IVF route. Friends seemed to be getting pregnant without problems but after months of trying… nothing.
But we did it. We kept believing, we kept imagining ourselves holding our own baby and this motivated us to take action. We will forever be grateful that our dreams came true.”
I’m sure some of these will comments will resonate with you. They certainly made us reflect on our IVF journey.
IVF is a miracle of modern medicine but it can be a long and winding road. Never stop believing and never give up hope.
Whichever path you choose we wish you well.