How to Prepare Mentally for IVF

Infertility can be a major stumbling block in a couple's relationship, and in their lives. Infertility for a woman is defined as the inability to get pregnant or stay pregnant after 12 months of trying, or after six months for women 35 and older.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the form of assisted reproductive technology with the highest success rate. It’s used to help with fertility and conception or to prevent passing on a genetic disorder.

IVF involves collecting mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or multiple eggs are implanted in the uterus.

IVF is performed in a number of ways. You can use your own eggs and your partner's sperm, or you can use eggs and/or sperm from either a known or an anonymous donor.

If you’re unable to carry a fetus to term, you may want to use a gestational carrier — another woman who has the embryo implanted in her uterus and who carries the baby for you.

At the OB/GYN office of Hany H Ahmed, MD in Houston, Texas, we take an evidenced-based approach to treating infertility, which can affect up to 10% of women of childbearing age. That’s why we offer a number of treatments to help a woman get pregnant and carry her baby to term.

We also know how challenging IVF treatment can be, and we want you to be prepared for the journey. Here’s what you need to know.

What are the risks?

IVF is time-consuming, expensive, invasive, and emotionally and physically exhausting, so you may want to try less-invasive methods first.

Options include medication to help regulate ovulation, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), where Dr. Ahmed injects specially prepared sperm into your uterus without fertilizing the egg in vitro.

If you go with IVF, some common risks of the procedure include:

Also, the use of an aspirating needle to collect eggs can cause bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel, bladder, or a blood vessel.

How you should prepare mentally

There’s a possibility of failure at any step in the process — ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer — so you shouldn’t pin all your hopes on one transfer. Many women go through several cycles before successfully becoming pregnant. 

Discuss the possibilities with your partner so you’re prepared for any outcome. In addition, you need to be ready to answer a number of tough questions.

How many embryos will be transferred?

Your doctor typically bases the number of transferred embryos on the mother’s age and the number of eggs retrieved. Implantation rates are lower for older women, so more embryos are usually transferred — except if you’re using donor eggs or genetically tested embryos.

Make sure both you and your doctor agree on the number before he starts the procedure, so you don’t have any surprises, like triplets.

What will you do with any extra embryos?

You have three basic choices here. First, you can freeze the extra embryos and store them for future use. Not all survive being frozen and thawed, but most do. Cryopreservation can also make future IVF cycles less costly and invasive. 

Second, you can donate any unused frozen embryos to another couple or to a research facility. And third, you can simply discard them.

How will you handle a multiple pregnancy?

If more than one embryo is transferred, IVF can result in a multiple pregnancy — which poses health risks for you and your babies. In some cases, fetal reduction, a surgical procedure used in the first trimester to reduce the number of babies a woman carries, can lower health risks.

However, it’s a major decision that has ethical, emotional, and psychological consequences. You need to know beforehand what to do in such a situation.

Have you thought through the legal aspects?

There are potential complications if you use donor eggs, sperm, embryos, or a gestational carrier. A trained counselor who deals with donor issues can advise you on things such as the legal rights of the donor. 

You may need a lawyer to file court papers that name you and your spouse or partner the legal parents of an implanted embryo.

Having a child can be a wonderful experience, but you need to be prepared. Seek out help from family, friends, your doctor, and a counselor or therapist to ensure you’re ready when the child comes.

If you want more information about IVF or anything related to women’s health, give our office a call at 713-489-3348, or schedule a consultation online. We’re here to help.

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