39 things I wish I'd known before I started IVF

Having been through IVF, there are things I’d probably do differently if I had my time again, and after chatting to lots of other women there are also things that they would do differently. I have put a huge list together, based on feedback from lots of women, of things I wish I had known before I started IVF. This list will give you food for thought, not all will be relevant, but it might make you think of something else that is or just make you feel grateful that you don’t have to go through that. If you are thinking of undergoing IVF then this is a must read.

  1. That IVF would be an emotional roller coaster ride, highs and lows and that I wouldn’t have any idea what the next day would bring. Think period moodiness on steroids (literally)
  2. People not needing IVF have no idea what the process involves – and would often say the wrong thing
  3. I would get so few embryos despite a large number of eggs being retrieved
  4. That selecting an egg donor would feel like dating someone – only my now husband was there too
  5. That some doctors don’t build a relationship with you at all (well the ones I met anyway). The nurses on the other hand were amazing
  6. I would feel a bit like a voodoo doll from having so many needles
  7. I would need to give myself daily injections, and proper injections with BIG needles
  8. I would have so many vaginal ultrasounds
  9. That there would be sooooo much waiting – waiting to start, waiting for results, waiting to speak to doctors or usually nurses, the Two Week wait to see if this thing worked and I was finally pregnant, waiting for confirming betas, waiting for the confirming ultrasound
  10. I would have to insert pessaries into my vagina and when that got irritated up my bum
  11. That my clinic’s recommendations didn’t match all other clinic’s recommendations – especially around transfer day and what to do/not do in the Two Week Wait
  12. Men don’t think they are ever the problem. You might just be. It’s your responsibility as much as your partners. 
  13. Everything seems so urgent and while it is, it can also be slowed down.
  14. Be kind to yourself, self care isn’t just baths and facials. It’s also saying, no I can’t come to your event, I can’t do this thing for you, partner can you please take care of XYZ right now I just don’t have the mental capacity.
  15. I wish I had started stool softeners sooner
  16. It’s a marathon not a race. And it will cost more and take longer than expected
  17. We would of seen a specialist sooner
  18. I would have taken supplements to improve egg quality sooner
  19. I wish I had known the amount of time I would actually spend at the clinic. There were points in the process where I had appointments 3-4 times/wk. It was challenging to balance my work schedule at moments
  20. I would have done a little more research before going in, it’s hard to know what to ask if you don’t understand how it works and what has to happen when.
  21. That I had realised that fertility drugs would mess with my thyroxine levels and therefore impact my chances of getting pregnant
  22. I wish I had known natural cycles were an option. I did the first two medicated and the third natural. Way less hard on the body via the natural cycle.
  23. I wish I trusted my instincts to switch clinics and doctors before wasting a year and 50 grand with a bad doctor in a bad clinic
  24. I wish I knew about the bloat & weight gain that comes along with IVF
  25. I wish I had just not held myself personally responsible for the outcome. I had a hard time recovering from the idea that it was my fault somehow.
  26. I wish I would have known that not all your fertilized eggs make it to day 5 or day 6
  27. I wish I had known the real impact of weight on IVF success.
  28. There are times throughout the process that you will have to avoid any intercourse and most activity like working out. I am extremely active and workout 4-5 days a week normally. They told me only yoga, stretching, and minimal walking. If you are a active person like me, just keep this in mind and do all the activities you want to do before you start the process.
  29. I wish I had approached a doctor about my fertility struggles earlier rather than “just keep trying” like the doctors push
  30. I wish I had researched different clinics and their success rates
  31. Ask your family about any and all issues they have. I found out that I have a hereditary clotting issue after miscarriage that is easily fixed by adding another med, possibly see hematologist as well
  32. Your first cycle is trial and error
  33. Your consultants don’t know everything
  34. IVF is both a science and an ART
  35. IVF doesn’t guarantee a baby so manage your expectations
  36. You’ll find out who really cares about you – I lost 2 friends by deciding to do IVF, one of whom I had been close friends with for 12 years
  37. If it works first or second time you were lucky
  38. Go with a multi-cycle refund program, I was offered this for embryo donation and transfer, and said no, it was 3 cycles and if I didn’t have a baby after 3 cycles I got 50% back, I wish that I had taken that now, as the first two cycles didn’t work…
  39. The amount of eggs collected doesn’t guarantee anything. Yes, statistically speaking, the more collected, the more can be fertilised; however, we’re dealing with nature, and she will do whatever she wants to do! I’ve read of young women having 30 odd eggs collected with none fertilised, 40+ year old having 5 collected, one fertilised and it sticking. 

One of the big questions on this list of things I wish I had known before I started IVF is that if I had known these things would it have stopped me? Personally, my answer is no, but it would have saved me some heartache, money, worrying and stress.

I am sure that there are more things that you wish you’d known before starting IVF, if you have any of your own please comment below or send me a message.

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