IVF is often the best option to beat infertility, but before you go there, we’ll walk you through all the factors, from money to emotions to chance of success, so you can make the right choice for you
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most effective ways fertility specialists have for helping infertile couples or individuals make their dreams of a baby come true. But is it right for you?
There are many things that contribute to the success of in vitro fertilization like age and physical requirements. There are also many details that need to be considered when deciding if IVF is the appropriate choice.
We want our patients, potential patients and even those just curious about IVF to have all the information they can about the commitment the treatment requires. Choosing an expensive, time-consuming procedure should not be taken lightly.
Of course, we counsel each patient on all aspects of IVF as it relates to their individual situation. But we’ve compiled the seven areas, from money to physical requirements, any couple or individual should consider in making the decision to go for an IVF pregnancy.
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1. Age and an IVF pregnancy
Women are born with a set number of eggs, and as they get older, there are fewer and fewer eggs and their quality can also diminish. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), at around 35 years old, a woman’s chances of getting pregnant without intervention drop.
IVF does increase the odds of conception, but only to a certain age. Women in their 40s often seek an IVF pregnancy using more viable and younger donor eggs. Women of this age also struggle more often with miscarriage and are at an increased risk of having a child with a birth defect.
2. Reversible conditions
Addressing any current conditions that can be reversed such as infection, hormone imbalances or health-related issues can help.
Obesity can lead to fertility problems in both men and women. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) cites menstrual irregularities in obese women and a decline in the quality of sperm in obese men. We can help you get on a weight-loss track.
Hormones play a crucial role in getting pregnant. Estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) all must be released at the right time for pregnancy. Taking hormones to address any imbalances or conditions such as endometriosis, can help adjust the levels for pregnancy.
Ongoing infections should be addressed before moving on to advanced infertility treatment. This can be done by taking the appropriate antibiotics to remove the infection.
3. Anticipating physical and emotional challenges
You may think, I want a baby, I need help, I want IVF. But this treatment isn’t an easy road, and it is not for everyone experiencing infertility due to its physical and emotional stressors.
Both partners may need to undergo tests before trying for an IVF pregnancy. One of the more intense tests, though this varies patient to patient, is the hysterosalpingogram (HGS). Other tests include ultrasounds, saline hysterosonography, semen analysis, blood work and sometimes diagnostic hysteroscopy or laparoscopy. The injections associated with IVF can also cause stress for some patients.
IVF treatment carries physical stresses, including extremely rare complications of internal bleeding or damage to the surrounding organs during egg retrieval. IVF can result in twins or more (physically stressing the mother and children), ectopic pregnancy or ovarian twisting.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can occur, causing the ovaries to grow large and become filled with fluid due to the medications required for stimulation. Mild OHSS causes bloating and some pelvic discomfort. Severe OHSS (occurs in 1 percent of IVF cycles) can cause difficulty urinating, dehydration, rapid weight gain and organ complications.
A study from Harvard University reported that of the 200 couples involved, half of the women and 15 percent of the men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. IVF can add to that financial pressures, physical stress and the distinct chance of failure anyway, making IVF a heavy emotional burden.
Who’s idea was it to have IVF? This is an issue we see coming up between some couples. When things are tough, the blame game can add tremendous stress, jeopardizing the IVF success and the couple’s relationship. We believe it is important for both partners to be fully invested.
If only one partner wants IVF, it could cause stress later on in the process. We also encourage couples to view our two-part blog series loaded with professional infertility counselors’ advice on relationships and infertility: part one and part two. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has a plethora of information on the topic of emotional and mental stress and has links to local support groups.
Other potent emotional stressors are difficult ethical questions that include:
- What will you do with unused embryos?
- Will you undergo genetic testing?
- Will you choose the sex of the embryo?
- What if you have multiples?
- How long will you undergo IVF without success?
4. Time requirements of an IVF pregnancy
IVF takes a significant time commitment, typically 5-7 weeks to complete. Often a successful pregnancy does not occur with the first cycle. So, more time, more money, more stress. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that four years is the median amount of time individuals struggle with infertility. Our advice: don’t be in a hurry.
“Infertility involves two functional areas where couples struggle: Money and sex,” writes Dr. Carol Stoney in our blog addressing infertility and relationships. IVF is not a cheap route. The average cost for one cycle ranges from $10,000-15,000. This price does not include the cost of fertility medications, which can vary from $3,500-5,000 per cycle.
TRM has financing programs available, as well as discounts to military and a multi-cycle discount, and we partner with many organizations to provide better options for our patients. We also offer a unique IVF guarantee program for eligible patients.
6. Reasonable alternatives to an IVF pregnancy
Before we consider IVF, we look at more affordable, less invasive options that may also be successful for an individual. Some of these options include:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) a form of artificial insemination.
- Ovulation induction by medication.
- Male infertility treatments including corrective surgeries and medication.
- Natural cycle IVF doesn’t use drugs to enhance egg production.
- Minimal stimulation or mini-IVF uses smaller doses of medication.
7. Choosing the right facility
With all the above to consider, you want to make sure you’re selecting the right fertility clinic and physicians. Many clinics focus solely on their success rates. While valuable statistics, success rates can be – and are – manipulated. TRM is recognized for high IVF success rates, and while these rates demonstrate our expertise, we do not measure our success based on just the numbers.
People struggling with infertility and thinking about an IVF pregnancy should consider that there is more to a clinic than just numbers. Being comfortable and confident with your physician, understanding all the information available, feeling heard during your appointments and feeling satisfied with your choices, even if things do not work out, are all points to consider when choosing a clinic.