The 5 Things You Need To Know For IVF
So this week was a little unusual as I ended up in Hospital on a Sunday afternoon.
The story began when I had woke up on Friday morning with a sore elbow, the pain was enough to wake me during the previous night and I did not sleep well. However I chose to ignore the pain and just ice it throughout the day as I was working and much too busy for self-care. By the time late afternoon had arrived I was in considerable pain and trying to get to a GP at 430pm on a Friday afternoon in Sydney is simply crazy thinking, it was never going to happen. As my condition became worse I finally called an after-hours GP to the house, he arrived at 130AM Saturday morning. The diagnosis was bursitis with infection and I needed to attend my regular GP later that morning. After visiting the regular GP, I was given antibiotics and thought all would be well. However by late Sunday afternoon I had to attend the Emergency Department at my local hospital as my swelling had now travelled the entire length of my arm. The Hospital gave me IV antibiotics, a cast and sling to immobilize my arm and I was soon back on my way home.
So the moral of this story is please don’t ignore the warning signs your body is giving you. You experience pain for a reason, take heed. Had I listened to my pain on Friday morning I would have prevented the Hospital visit on Sunday. Self -care is so important and even more so when you are on your IVF journey.
So back to The 5 Important Things You Need to know for IVF –
- The 1st Important Thing you need to know for IVF is Choosing a Clinic – whilst many clients will allow this decision to be recommended to them, it is very important that you choose your clinic based on a couple of important factors.
You will spend a great deal of time attending your clinic, blood tests, sperm preparation and ultrasounds are regularly performed, so it is important that you find a clinic close to your home or work for ease of access.
One client I was talking with recently was honestly thinking of traveling to a Gold Coast clinic when she lived in Brisbane, after a few minutes of discussion together and a little thought overnight, it became clear to her that asking her husband to drive 1 hour to collect his semen sample on the day of egg collection and then wait around in case of problems would probably be too much to ask! Wisely she changed her mind and opted to stay with the current clinic in Brisbane.
Embryo transfers happen throughout the working day so it is important that you are not getting caught up in traffic and experiencing parking issues, thereby stressing yourself out just prior to this procedure. I had one client sprinting in to the clinic for an embryo transfer, she was panting and out of breath when I went to get her ready for the transfer. Seeing the embryo up on the screen and talking with the Dr prior to transfer it was clear that this lady was still in a state of unrest as her breathing was rapid and she was extremely anxious. By the time her husband had managed to find a parking spot the transfer was over and he had missed this important occasion.
The embryo transfer is the most crucial time of your cycle and I cannot impress upon you how important it is to be there, in a calm state. No one would expect you to be completely stress free, however the number of clients I have seen over the years who have been completely harrowed by their journey to the clinic is significant.
It is much better to arrive earlier, have something at the local Café and be in a better frame of mind just prior to your embryo transfer, this is done easily when travel distances are smaller.
- The 2nd Important Thing you need to know for IVF is Mindset – There is a whole side to your fertility treatment that will not have been discussed with you, the emotional factor and just how much your treatment will effect you and your relationship.
The strength of your relationship will be tested as you launch into unfamiliar territory that is largely determined by stages that you need to pass in order to progress to the next and all of these tests are deeply personally as they relate to the eggs or sperm and thereby seem to be by extension, blamed on one partner or the other.
Occasionally there are no obvious problems to focus upon and no clear cause of infertility, in these ‘idiopathic’ cases there is a sense of hopelessness, as there is no real reason that you cannot achieve pregnancy.
This is a stressful time and whilst I would never suggest that you try and relax, I would recommend that you find ways to reduce your stress and anxiety levels daily.
So how can you reduce your stress, first let’s look to the easy things you can do to reduce tension and increase endorphins (those natural feel good hormones) released when we exercise.
Walking is a simple way to clear out your thoughts and get some exercise, swimming is another easy, low impact way to increase your movement.
Now whilst you may call it exercise, for some people it is better to reframe this word as ‘Movement’, increasing these episodes of movement – 30 minutes a day every day/every day or 1 hour a day/3 times a week is sufficient. Not massive sweaty episodes, only do as much and as gently as your body needs, but enough to get your mind feeling less tension, that is all that is required.
I have a client that is office bound and who does sit ups and push ups by her desk daily, as she does not have the time after work to get out and exercise.
Another client moves her laptop to the top of her filing cabinet, so for half her working day, she is standing up and not in that sedentary seated position. This has great benefits for your health, not sitting in the same position. Heart function and oxygenation of your body improves significantly when you are standing up.
We will delve deeper into the area of Mindset in an upcoming episode as there is much to discuss on this topic.
- The 3rd Important thing you need to know for IVF is Health – being at your optimal health will give you a better chance of achieving pregnancy.
So taking the recommended doses of Folic Acid prior to conceiving, ensuring that your Rubella and other vaccinations are up-to-date are important considerations.
Depending on your ethnic background it may also be recommended that you check your Vitamin D levels prior to attending your fertility clinic.
Naturally at all times you should consult your GP to discuss your individual health needs.
Drinking 2 L of water daily (preferably filtered) is another easy way to improve your health and ultimately the quality of your eggs and sperm. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, so it makes sense to replenish these stores often throughout the day, giving your cells the moisture they require to function properly.
Nourishing your body with healthy whole foods is important to keep you in optimal physical health. Limiting the processed foods you eat and opting for fresh foods will give you health benefits, as will cutting back on sugar. It is difficult to know where most sugar lies in our everyday foods, so I would recommend checking the labels of your food and becoming familiar with the sugar content and other additives that you are regularly ingesting.
If you are overweight, then it is better for your fertility to get to a healthier weight range for your height. Body Mass Index or BMI is frequently used to measure your optimal weight to height ratio, with the healthy range being between 20-25 on the BMI scale. Calculated by dividing your weight in kgs by your height in metres squared. For example if you weigh 71kgs and you are 1.76 metres tall, your BMI is 22.9.
If you are a smoker than quitting is best for your optimal fertility health, the negative health concerns with smoking are well known. There are numerous studies proving the impacts of smoking on fertility for both men and women.
Making these small changes to your habits will enable you to have a healthier body and therefore healthier sperm and eggs for your fertility treatment.
- The 4th Important Thing you need to know for IVF is Support – Remembering that during fertility treatment, especially for those stimulated cycles, if you are the female having injections your hormone levels are incredibly high. Emotionally you may feel overwhelmed with the simplest of tasks, that otherwise would not faze you. It is important to be kind to yourself and to let others know how you are feeling, so you are not experiencing the highs and lows of the emotional journey on your own.
If possible do tell your friends and family about your treatment, not so that they can pry into your medical treatment, more for the support of having people that you can talk to and discuss your concerns and fears. While many clients will discuss this with their partners at the time, if you are undergoing fertility treatment there will already be pressure within your relationship due to the unexpected trouble achieving pregnancy.
Over the years I have seen many mums, sisters and best friends accompany women to their embryo transfer, this is a welcomed sight and means that these clients have extra support at a time when they need it the most.
Although men may not find it easy to discuss their feelings with their mates, it is important that they do have friends that they can talk to, as fertility treatment is a not easy for men, with 50% of fertility issues being due to male factor problems. If they do not have group of close friends, it is important that seek help from Coaches or Counselors to get the support that they need during and after treatment.
Approximately 40% of my clients are men. They often say that they feel overwhelmed and have no control over the process and no ability to fix the situation. Most of the fertility treatment is undertaken by the female and in these couple situations particularly, the male often feels quite isolated. This is difficult for men and the lack of power and the unknown possibilities, make it hard for them to reach out to their friends for support. This is especially the case when male factor or sperm problems are given as the reason for fertility treatment.
Whilst there are always success stories, the hardest part is when a cycle fails, it is at these times you need to ensure that you have your tribe close by, to talk with and gather support.
- The 5th Important Thing you need to know for IVF is Finance – The financial cost of fertility treatment is huge as on average most clients will undergo at least 3 cycles, for some clients this figure is much higher. At an average of $10-15K per stimulated cycle it is incredible how some clients can afford so many cycles.
One client I spoke with recently had 19 cycles in Australia. Another client was 48 years old, had a child at 45 years of age with donor eggs from a treatment cycle in Greece. She returned for further treatment and miscarried after the second transfer, however still wanted to go back and have another transfer overseas. These cycles including the donor eggs, can be $20-25K including overseas flights and accommodation.
Undergoing fertility treatment can be financially crippling for many clients. Whilst some will borrow the money, extend home loans, max out credit cards and early release their super, this is a really important discussion to have with your partner prior to starting your fertility treatment.
At what point will you decide to stop treatment and when is enough, enough?
As mentioned earlier the emotional toll is extraordinary on a relationships when having fertility treatment and the financial burden is often the nail in the coffin for most people.
So to recap these are my top 5 most important things that you should consider when undergoing fertility treatment –
Choosing a Clinic
If you would like any further information or would like to send me any questions please head to my website –
www.ivfcoachingclinic.com.au or my Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/ivfcoachingclinic/ you can also follow me on Instagram @sophiabaseotto or @ivfcoachingclinic
Kind Regard, Sophia