I’ve talked a lot about the impact infertility has had on my family here on my blog. It’s been over 4 years since we had our son through IVF, and I am still passionate about sharing my story and helping others who are going through the pain of infertility.
One of my goals is to demystify infertility and in vitro fertilization. I think many people will be surprised at the best and the worst aspects of undergoing IVF – so here’s a peek inside the process.
- The Infertility Sisterhood – While going to a fertility clinic was intimidating at first, there is nothing like looking around and seeing a waiting room full of women just like you to realize that there is a whole community of families who are going through the same challenges. While my infertility journey felt lonely at times, I learned that I was not alone and took comfort in that. I was also grateful to find a community of bloggers who are telling their stories of infertility, parenting after infertility, adoption and pregnancy loss.
- Taking Action – After months of getting my hopes up and peeing on sticks to see if sex on demand during ovulation was working, it was a relief to be in the hands of the specialists and learn that IVF was our recommended treatment. There was every reason to expect to success.
- Hormones – There are a number of medications and hormone injections to take during an IVF cycle, and I remember feeling extra sexy as a result with all those hormones coursing through my body… va va voom!
- Taking control – While we were in the throws of infertility, we considered many options including IVF and adoption. Both these options cost a lot of money. For us, the factor that convinced us to continue down the IVF route was the ability to have our own pregnancy and also to be in control of the decision making process. With adoption, you submit your profile and then wait for a birth mom to choose you for her baby. With IVF, you are rolling the dice in a different way but you decide with your doctors on the course of treatment and what comes next every step of the way. There is no right or wrong approach – it is an individual choice – but for us, we felt more empowered to go the IVF route.
- Happy endings - IVF put a baby in my arms and I don’t know who or where I would be today without my son. My family is complete.
- The expense. One cycle of IVF costs approximately $10,000 including medications. The province of BC and every other province in Canada except Quebec do not cover IVF nor the medications needed for the procedures. I am grateful to my husband’s employer whose benefit plan did cover some of the medication costs. Despite that, our total bill was close to $30,000. That was $30,000 less that we had to put towards our mortgage when we bought our house and we are still paying for that with the size of our monthly mortgage payments.
- Hormones – I mentioned the va va voom effect of the hormones but there are also nasty needles and daily injections. Ouch. Add a side of hormones to the stress of infertility and I was an emotional mess. I remember having a total breakdown at work at one point in front of my female boss who somehow guessed what going on. Sad but true was the fact that she had gone through the same thing many years ago and was never able to get pregnant.
- Testing and surgery – When we went through IVF there was a lot of testing involved. First, a battery of blood work. An intravaginal ultrasound that goes yup, right inside your vagina to check the number of eggs follicles in your ovaries (I had this one more than once in a room full of people). There were tests to rule out blocked fallopian tubes and to check my uterus for abnormalities. I was one of the unlucky people who need laparoscopic surgery to deal with issues such as scar tissue, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and blocked tubes. It was not fun but it is amazing what you are willing to go through when your goal is to have a baby. Unless there is a vasectomy involved, the guys seem mostly limited to a sperm test or three from what I know but don’t quote me on that.
- Complications – Some couples will experience bad news along the way. They didn’t produce enough eggs to complete a cycle. Or they harvested lots of eggs but not very many fertilized into embryos. Or their egg quality or embryo quality was not good. Their cryopreserved embryos did not survive the thawing process for implantation. They had perfect embryos for implantation and did not get pregnant. Lots of things can go wrong and …
- There are No Guarantees – The chances of getting pregnant in an average IVF cycle are good* depending on your age and the number of embryos being implanted (usually one or two embryos in Canada). It often takes more than one embryo transfer procedure to become pregnant through IVF. The downside is there are no guarantees and some people will never get pregnant using IVF.
*Genesis Fertility Center is an excellent facility in Vancouver, BC with an average pregnancy rate for all ages of 57% using IVF. That rate rises to 70% for under age 35 and decreases to 42% for age 40 to 42 years. For more information on pregnancy rates, check with your local fertility center.