When I first started fertility treatments, IVF was the furthest thing from my mind. I was only 28 years old, and my Reproductive Endocrinologist seemed to think that all it would take was Clomid to induce ovulation and get me pregnant.
At the time, I thought of IVF as a last resort, an “if all else fails” sort of thing that was only for women who were 40 and above. We certainly wouldn’t need that to start our family, right? Wrong.
Fast forward through all of the heartaches we endured over several failed IUI cycles, and the idea of IVF started to become increasingly more appealing to me. The thought of injections scared me, sure, but I knew the success rates were higher with IVF, and I was so done with the crazy mood swings I was experiencing on ovulation meds like Clomid and Femara. It was time for a fresh start, one that would give us a higher chance of achieving our goal of a healthy pregnancy.
For those of you just starting out on your IVF journeys, I know how terrifying it can be when that first box of medications arrives on your doorstep. But like most things in life, IVF turned out not to be as scary as I originally thought.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. It felt more controlled.
There is so much in infertility that is out of our control. For me, having a solid plan always helped me move forward after a negative pregnancy test, and IVF gave me the structure I craved after several long, failed IUI cycles. Although everyone’s medication protocol is different during IVF, during my consult I was told exactly what to expect during my cycle, which helped manage my expectations. As a result, I felt more in control during IVF than I had in any of my previous cycles, even if I didn’t have any control whatsoever over the outcome.
2. There were less intense side effects.
For me, ovulation meds like Clomid gave me insane hormonal mood swings to the point where I was basically a monster to live with (I’m still apologizing to my husband). I didn’t have as many intense side effects from my various IVF medications. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but for me, IVF was a welcome relief from the Clomid crazies.
3. It gave me more tangible results.
After a failed IUI cycle, I always felt like I had nothing to show for all the blood, sweat, and tears I had put into it. With IVF, the eggs I had retrieved led to several day-5 blastocysts, which made me feel like we were one step closer to the big fat positive we had been hoping for. Even when my first frozen embryo transfer didn’t end in a positive pregnancy test, it was still comforting to know that I had frozen embryos sitting on ice, waiting for us to try again. I know everyone isn’t as fortunate as we were, but we were lucky enough to have a very successful first IVF cycle and still have embryos left in case we want to try again.
4. The success rates were higher.
Need I say more?! But in all seriousness, moving forward with IVF when I was at my emotional breaking point really helped me to feel that we were putting our best feet forward by pursuing a treatment that would greatly increase our odds of getting pregnant.
5. We had the option to genetically test our embryos.
IVF gives you the ability to run PGS & PGD testing on your embryos, ruling out any genetic abnormalities and lowering your chance of miscarriage. Genetic testing can also tell you the gender of your embryo(s) early before you even have your transfer! How cool is that?! Unfortunately, this kind of testing wasn’t covered by insurance, so we passed on it, but it’s really great to know that the technology is there as an option in case we want to test our remaining embryos in the future.
6. The shots weren’t as bad as I thought, I swear!
With the exception of PIO shots (progesterone shots), most IVF shots get injected into your belly fat, so unless you have 0% body fat you will be just fine, I assure you. Still, if you’re too scared to do your shots yourself, I would recommend having your partner, a family member, or a nurse at your clinic do them for you. You’ve got this, girlfriend!
Of course, all of this was just my personal experience with IVF. There are also many obvious downsides to IVF, including the outrageous costs that are often associated with it, as well as the lack of insurance coverage, which can make it cost-prohibitive for many people.
Trust me, I know IVF isn’t the best choice for everyone, but for many couples, it’s the most promising and possibly even their only option to become parents, and if that isn’t motivation enough to calm your fears about that giant box of medications, I don’t know what is!
Remember, you are stronger than you think. And if you can give yourself a progesterone shot in the ass, you can basically do anything.