So you did it all 'right'? You found the perfect partner, got married, and chose to start building your family. It was gonna be so great. Yet your dream of that plump little nugget snuggled up in your arms has yet to come true. What's a couple to do?
In Vitro Fertilization(IVF) definitely gets a lot of hype. It gets media coverage with celebrities and public figures. Yet no one seems to be talking about the lead up to the big decision. Typically there are several steps that your doctor (hopefully a Reproductive Endocrinologist) will take first.
Lab Testing. How many vials of blood could a fertility challenged couple give, if a fertility challenged couple could give endless vials of blood? Exactly! Simply put there are so many tests available to take. It can be easy or complex with every level in between. Find a doctor you trust to make suggestions for your unique situation. Trust and suggestion being the operative word here.
Structural Testing. The goal is to rule out blocked fallopian tubes and/or fibroids or polyps in the uterus. And to be certain that some solid swimmers are getting where we want them to go.
In my humble opinion these tests should be done before any medicated cycles are determined. AND they should be done by an RE. If abnormalities are detected it stands to reason that the treatment plan will be adjusted accordingly. If nothing is detected, as frustrating as that is, at least now you know.
From that point the next step is almost always Clomid or Femara. Hopefully these cycles are monitored to determine that the medications are doing their job. It is not uncommon for your doctor to recommend a few timed intercourse cycles and then next, an IUI cycle or two, or maybe even three.
Still no success? Overwhelmed yet? Tell me about it! Not to pour gasoline on the fire but the knee jerk response to that will be to move on to IVF.
Here's the deal. I have heard stories from clients where their OB GYN did 10 rounds of Clomid back to back with zero monitoring. Or another client who did 6 rounds of medicated cycles back to back with monitoring. BUT her numbers showed only 1 cycle where she had a follicle mature enough and endometrial lining thick enough to even give her and her husband a chance. I believe that these stories are happening in part because we don't understand the process. And we don't ask enough questions. Should we be able to trust our doctor? Yes! Most definitely. But even more than that, we should be able to trust ourselves.
I totally get the desire to just pass off the power. This was suppose to be fun and magical. By the time you have decided to head to the doctor for help you are likely way passed the rainbows and butterflies stage. Unfortunately, passing the buck doesn't work in your best interest. It isn't how you planned things, but you're here now. You have the choice to play the victim or be an integral player on team dream baby. I want to help you choose the latter with conviction.
So let's say you've made the big decision. You're going to invest the typical $15-25,000 on an IVF procedure. Even once the decision is made to do so, most couples still have no idea if it's the right and/or best decision. All they know is that their doctor said it was the only way. From my personal experience, when all you want is that baby, you are ready to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I know that feeling well and I support that completely. We fight for our babies once they are here in our arms and our homes. Why wouldn't we fight for them before they get here too!?
So now you have done all the testing and all the lead up and you are so ready to just do the dang thing...
IVF coming right up! One of the scariest parts of IVF, is the national success rate is only about 33% of cycles resulting in a live birth. That does not generally add a warm and fuzzy blanket of assurance. So I say, find your own damn blanket.
Make sure ALL of your questions are asked AND answered in a way you understand. Know the steps intimately. It is highly likely that it will be stressful. All the information about when and how much medication to take? What appointment is for when and where and what do you need to do to be prepared for it? If it means studying the material you get from the doctor a couple of times and then asking MORE questions... DO IT! It will be worth it.
The more prepared you are, the less stressed you are. The less stressed you are, the better your entire assisted cycle will be. Stress DOES affect your body and therefore can affect your IVF cycle. So be prepared.
Other fantastic ways to prepare your womb like you would prepare your baby's room? After all, you wouldn't just jump off the couch and run a marathon. You would train.
Eat to boost your egg and sperm quality. Food is medicine. Real, whole foods are the only thing you should be putting in your body for the 90 days before your stimulation medications begin. Choose to live a cleaner lifestyle. Move your body. Exercise – even simply walking is a great way to increase blood flow. Getting good movement and blood flow to your reproductive organs means plump and juicy eggs. This is generally a super stressful time for couples. Be sure to still focus on each other. Don't lose sight of why you wanted a baby together so much to begin with. LOVE! Come together. Check in with how the other is doing. Is there any thing you can do to help to remove some of the physical or emotional burden? Be honest and sincere and considerate with each other. Each of you deserve that and so does your baby.
The silver lining of fertility challenges is that they offer you the opportunity to connect with your body and your partner in a way you may never have otherwise. Accept the challenge to make the changes needed. Change = change.