Infertility is a bumpy road, paved with stress and surprises. If you are getting ready to start an IVF cycle, you may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Understandably so! For the majority of patients, IVF involves completely unchartered territory. It is easy to feel lost.
Preparation is key to preventing unnecessary stress throughout IVF. As I think through what I believe every IVF patient should know before starting, I admit it’s truly difficult to narrow the information down into a few tips.
Here is my shot at it - from a fertility nurse, IVF Cycle Coach, and ally, these are 8 things you should know before starting IVF.
1. Advocate for yourself
Modern medicine has changed over time. There is so much information at your fingertips! You don’t have to just go with the flow and follow orders without hesitation. Learning to advocate for yourself by asking questions, voicing concerns, and seeking additional support is crucial.
2. Understand your treatment
It is your right to completely understand what is going to happen to you and your body when you undertake an IVF cycle. Lay the foundation for a better IVF experience by comprehending the process as it relates to your specific situation. It is scary to be in the dark. Let some light in by learning about your diagnosis, treatment, and possible outcomes before you begin. This will boost your confidence right out of the IVF starting gate!
3. IVF is not a quick process
The length of time from your decision to move forward with IVF to the exciting day of your egg retrieval can often span months. If you expect it to be brief, coping with any delays will make for a more stressful experience. View it as more of a marathon than a sprint. This will prepare you to be able to adapt if the process takes longer than expected.
4. It’s crucial to be flexible
Understand that IVF comes hand in hand with a requirement to be flexible. While IVF cycles follow a basic timeline, there is a great amount of unpredictability involved. Each next step of the cycle hinges on how the previous one went. So, one minor change can have a ripple effect on your schedule… And on your emotions. You will thank yourself many times for getting into a flexible mindset before starting.
5. You CAN make it through the injections
While no one enjoys this part of IVF, you will come out the other side stronger than you wanted to be. The anxiety build-up to do the shot is worse than the shot itself! And it is always easier after the first one.
6. It doesn’t work every time
As hard as it is to hear, it is a fact that even when everything goes perfectly, IVF just doesn’t work every time. It may require more than one round to be successful and unfortunately, not every IVF journey leads to a baby. But there are options beyond IVF, too. ❤️
7. Boundaries are essential
It is easy for fertility treatments to become the primary focus of your life. They require a lot of your time and what feels like an endless supply of your effort. Don’t be afraid to be selfish during this time and don’t be afraid to say no! You don’t even need to explain yourself, simply say it with kindness. Protect your time and mental wellbeing with a gentle, “I won’t be able to make it this time, but I hope to see you soon!”
8. Choose your SUPPORT CIRCLE carefully
During IVF you may find yourself in a new internal debate about who to tell and how much to share. Opening up about IVF can be cathartic and potentially less stressful than keeping it all a secret. You may find support in unexpected places and gain compassionate support from family, friends, bosses, and co-workers.
But it is important to consider that there can possibly be some negative aspects to sharing. Unwanted inquiries, advice, and insensitive comments can arise and you may find yourself having to educate people about IVF when you don’t want to. Remember, it is always your choice who you let in.
9. Enlist a professional
The care of your mental health is critical while going through IVF. It’s so easy to lose yourself as you navigate all of the heavy stuff being thrown at you. While support comes in many forms, a reproductive mental health professional can be there to help you realize your fears and develop better coping methods for the bumps along the way. You don’t need to do this alone.
As complex as IVF is, you’ve got this! Now is the time to take steps to move forward with confidence.
Embrace Fertility offers IVF Cycle Coaching, 1:1 Fertility Support, and Fertility Wellness Programs for your complete fertility and IVF journey. Click here to learn more.